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tihtary of Che t:beolo0f cai ^tminaty 


Rev. Wm. B. Scarborough 



JIN 2 7 2005 












VOL. I. 


JAN 2 7 2005 



No. 285 BROADWAY. 




The Author's Preface, . 
The Editor's Preface, . 
Life of Dr. Ridgeley, 
The Introduction, 

Notes The Authority of Creeds, 

The Assembly's Catechisms, 


The Glorifying and the Enjoying of 

God 4 

Man's chief end, .... 4 

The glorifying of God, ... 4 

The enjoying of God, ... 6 

The connexion between the glorifying 

and the enjoying of God, . . 7 

Notes — Divine desertion, ... 8 

Paul's wishing himself accursed from 

Christ 8 


The Being of God, .... 9 
Why proofs of the being of God should 

be studied, ..... 9 

Proofs of the being of God, ... 10 

Notes Natural religion, ... 20 

Proof of the being of God from the ab- 
sence of creative power in the creature, 23 
Proof of the being of God from pro- 
phecy, 23 


The Titles, Object, and Sufficiency 

OF Scripture, .... 23 
The several names given to Scripture, 24 
How the Scripture is divided or distin- 
guished, ..... 23 
When God first revealed his will to man 
in Scripture, and how the revelation 
was gradually enlarged, 
Whether the church, under the Old 
Testament dispensation, understood the 
written word, or the spiritual meaning 
of the laws contained in it, . . 26 
Scripture is a rule of faith and obedience, 27 
The properties of Scripture as a rule of 

faith, 29 

Traditionnot arille offaith, . . 30 

The completeness and purity of the canon 

of Scripture, .... 32 

Notes— The Old and New Testament, 34 

The sufficiency of Scripture, . . 36 


Unwritten sayings of Christ, . 36 

The ' form of sound words,' . . 37 
Paul's traditions to the Thessalonians, 37 
Arguments against tradition, . 37 


The Inspiration of Scripture, . 38 

The nature, necessity, and possibility of 

revelation, .... 38 

Proofs that the Scriptures are inspired, 40 
Notes. — The genuineness and credibility 

of Scripture, .... 62 

The harmony of the Scriptures, a proof 

of their inspiration, ... 69 

Vindictive justice, .... 69 
Proof of the inspiration of Scripture 

from the zeal which it displays for 

the Divine glory, ... 70 

Consciousness of inspiration, . . 71 
Modes and degrees of inspiration, 72 

Verbal inspiration, ... 74 

The evidence of miracles, . . 76 

The spirits of the prophets subject to 

the prophets, ... 77 

Inward testimony of the Spirit to the 

authority of Scripture, . . 77 


The Topics of Scripture, 


The Attributes of God, 

General view of the Divine Attributes 

The Spirituality of God, 

The Self-Existence of God, 

The Infinitude of God, 

The All-Sufficiency of God, 

The Eternity of God, 

The Immutability of God, . 

The Incomprehensibility of God, 

The Omnipresence of God, 

The Omnipotence of God, 

The Omniscience of God, 

The Wisdom of God, 

The Holiness of God, 

The Justice of God, 

The Benignity of God, 

The Goodness of God, 

The Mercy of God, 

The Grace of God, 

The Patience of God, 
























The Faithfulness of God, . . 119 

Notes — The Communicable and the In- 
communicable perfections of God, 123 
Connexion between Uncompounded- 

ness and Eternal duration, . .124 
Omnipresence, .... 124 
The absolute and the ordinate power 

of God," 124 

The objects of God's knowledge, , 125 
Man's natural knowledge of God, . 125 
The disposing, the vindictive, and the 

remunerative justice of God, . 126 
The harmony of the divine perfections, 126 


The Supremacy and Unity of God, 

The Supremacy of God, . 
The Unity of God, .... 
Notes — Proofs of the Unity of God from 
reason, ..... 
Knowledge of the Unity of God 

among the heathen. 
The Simplicity of God, 






The Doctrine of the Trinity, 

The importance of the doctrine of the 

Trinity, 135 

The doctrine of the Trinity a mystery, 138 
The doctrine of the Trinity not con- 
trary to reason, .... 143 
Whence the doctrine of the Trinity is to 

be deduced, . . . . 145 

Expository rules respecting the doc- 
trine of the Trinity, . . . 147 
Definition of terms on the subject of the 

Trinity, 149 

The Personality of the Son, . . 152 

The Personality of the Holy Spirit, 153 

The Personal Properties of the Son and 

<,f the Holy Spirit, ... 156 
The Sonship of Christ, . . .160 

The Procession of the Holy Spirit, 166 

The Economv of the Persons in the 

Godhead, " 167 

Proofs of the doctrine of the Trinity, 170 
Proofs of the Deity of Christ from his 
Titles, . . . . . .170 

his own statements, 193 

his perfections, . 197 

■ his works, . . 206 

— — his being the object 

of worship, ..... 218 
The Divinity of the Holy Spirit, . 230 

The practical use of the doctrine of the 

Trinity, 239 

Notes. — The communication of the divine 

perfections, ..... 241 
The Sonship of Christ, . . 241 

The Spirit of Adoption, . , . 250 
Substitution of ' Lord' for 'Jehovah,' 250 
The Angel-Jehovah, ... 250 
Proof of Christ's Deity from Rom. ix. 5, 251 
The doctrine of the Greek Article, . 252 
Genuineness of 1 John v. 7, • . 252 
The 'Eternal Spirit' through whom 
Christ ' oliered himself,' . . 253 


The Decukks OF God, 


General view of the doctrine of the 

Divine decrees, .... 254 

The meaning of predestination, . 257 

The truth of predestination, , . 258 

The design and nature of the Divine ■ 

decrees, 259 

The meaning of Election, . . .261 
' Opinions as to the objects of election, 269 
Proofs that election respects only a part 

of mankind, .... 270 

Proofs that election has reference to 

sanctification, 279 

The elect are chosen in Christ, . 283 

The eternity, wisdom, secrecy, absolute- 
ness, and unchangeableness of the 
purpose of election, . . . 284 

Doctrine of reprobation, . . . 293 
Absurd consequences of denying the 

doctrine of election, . . . 302 

Arguments for the opposite doctrine to 

that of election examined, . . 304 
Objections to the doctrine of election 

examined, ..... 308 

Practical inferences from the doctrine 

of election, 319 

Notes — The Foreknowledge of God, . 321 
Election in Christ, . . . 322 
The necessity of the Divine pur- 
pose, 323 

Divine sovereignty and equity, . 324 


The Work of Creation, . . 324 

The meaning of the word Creation, . 325 

Creation not eternal, . . . 326 

Creation effected by the word of God's 

power, 330 

Creation made for the Divine glory, . 330 

The work of the six days of Creation, 331 

The quality of Creation, . . . 336 

Notes The six days of Creation, . 337 

The time of creating out of nothing, 340 


The Creation, Nature, Character, 

AND Employment of Angels, . 341 

Note The Angel who slew the Assyrian 

host, 346 


The Creation of Man, 

Wliy man was created last, 
Man created male and female, 
Adam and Eve the first human beings. 
The constituent parts of Man, 
Man created after the image of God, 
T' e fallibility of Man, 
Note The image of God, 



The meaning of Providence, 
Upholding Providence, 
Governing Providence, 
Particular Providence, 


Piiovidence toward Angels, 







Providence toward the fallen Angels, 365 

Providence toward the holy Angels, 367 

The ministry of Angels, . ' . . 368 

Note. — The ministry of Angels, . . 369 


Providence toward Man in Paradise, 371 
Man's outward condition in innocence, 371 
Man's communion with God in paradise, 374 
The institution of the Sabbath in para- 
dise, ...... 375 

The covenant with man in paradise, 375 

Notes. — The Covenant of Works, . 385 

The design of the tree of life, . 390 


The Fall, .... .390 

The freedom of Man's will, . . 390 

Man left to the freedom of his will, . 391 

The Temptation, . .. . . 392 

The consequences of the Fall, . . 396 

Practical inferences from the doctrine of 

the Fall, 398 


Adam's Representative Character, 
AND THE Imputation of his Guilt, 398 
The federal position of Eve, . . 398 

The representative character of Adam, 400 
Christ not represented by Adam, . 401 
Man not represented by Adam after his 

fall, 402 

The imputation of Adam's sin, and his 
representative character defended, 402 


Original Sin, 405 

The nature of sin, .... 405 

The sinfulness of all mankind as fallen in 

Adam, 406 

The origin of sin in man, . . . 409 
The conveyance of original sin by natural 

generation, . . . . . 414 
The connection of actual transgression 

with original sin, .... 41'6 


The Punishment Consequent on Ori- 
ginal Sin, 416 

The condition of those who die in Infancy, 417 
Punishment due to original sin in actual 
transgressors, . . . . .419 
Note — Infant- Salvation, . . . 422 


The Punishments of Sin, . . . 425 
The punishments of sin in the present life, 425 
The punishment of sin in the future state, 433 

Note.— The creation subject to vanity, 434 


General View of Salvation, . 436 

The design and nature of salvation, . 436 

The subjects of salvation, . . 437 

The reason of salvation, . . . 437 

General view of the Divine covenants, 438 



The Covenant of Grace, . . 440 

The meaning of the wor(l Covenant, . 440 
Difference between a human covenant 

and the Covenant of Grace, . . 441 
Proofs of the Covenant of Grace, . 443 

Distinctions as to the Covenant* of Re- 
demption and the Covenant of Grace, 447 
The Covenant of Grace as made with 
man, ...... 449 

Note. — The Covenant of Grace, . 451 

The Display of Grace in the Cove- 




The Administrations of the Cove- 
nant OF Grace, . . . 459 
The administration of the Covenant 

under the Old Testament, . . 459 

The administration of the Covenant 
under the New Testament, . 467 

Notes. — The administrations of the Cove- 
nant, .... . . 470 

The date of the Christian dispensa- 
tion, 470 


The Mediator of the Covenant of 

Grace, 471 

Christ the only Mediator, . . . 472 
Christ as Mediator is God, . . 47S 
Christ as Mediator is Man, . . 474 

The Distinctness of Christ's two na- 
tures, ...... 475 

The Realitv of Christ's human nature, 476 
The Incarnation of Christ, . . 478 
The Date and Duration of Christ's incar- 
nate state, 481 


Why the Mediator Required to be 

God and Man, .... 483 

Why the JNIediator required to be God, 483 

Why the Mediator required to be Man, 485 

Why the Mediator required to be God 

and Man in one person, . . . 488 


The Titles and Offices of the Medi- 
ator, 489 

The meaning of the name Jesus, . 489 

■ Christ, . 490 

The offices of the Mediator, . . 492 

Note. — The number of Christ's offices, 494 


Christ's Prophetic Office, . . 495 

The order of Christ's Prophetic office, 495 

Christ's Titles as a Prophet, . . 496 

■ Work as a Prophet, . . 496 

To whom Christ ministers as a Prophet, 498 

How Christ ministers as a Prophet, . 498 
The periods of Christ's ministry as a 

Prophet, 499 





Christ's f hiestly Office, . . 500 

What it is to he a Priest, . 500 

The types of Christ's Priesthood, V' 

The necessity of satisfaction for sin, 508 

The nature of the satisftiction required, 510 
The reality of tlie Atonement, . 513 

The extent of the Atonement, . . 519 
Examination of arguments for Universal 
Redemption, .... 525 

Notes The difficulty connected with the 

doctrines which relate to the order 
of Christ's Priesthood, . . 540 

Melchizedek was not Christ, . 540 

The peculiarities of Melchizedek's order 

of Priesthood, .... 543 
Satisfying Divine justice, . . 545 
The altar on which Christ was offered, 546 
Christ's purchase, .... 547 


Christ's Kingly Office, . . 549 

The meaning of the word King, . 549 

The subjects of Christ's Government, 549 
Christ's Government over his people, 549 

. toward his enemies, 556 

The periods of Christ's Government, 557 
The millennial reign of Christ, . 558 
The eternity of Christ's Mediatorial 
Kingdom, 575 

Note The first resurrection, , . 577 


Christ's Humiliation in His Birth, 

AND in His Life on Earth, . 577 

In what sense Christ humbled himself, 577 

Christ's humiliation in his birth, . 578 

throughout his life, 580 

in temptations, . 583 

Note. — Christ's emptying Himself, . 593 


Christ's Humiliation in and after his 

Death, 593 

Christ's humiliation immediately before 

and in his death, .... 594 

Christ's humiliation after his death, . 602 

Note ' The spirits in prison,' . 606 

CJheists Exaltation in His Resur- 



The mcorruption of Christ's BoiTy, 

The reality of Christ's resurrection, -iii7 

The properties of Christ's risen Body, Gl 1 
The period between Christ's death and 

rt'surrectioh, . . . fiio 

Christ raised by his own power, fl I l 

The efifects of Christ's resurrection, . oio 


Christ's Exaltation in and after His 

Ascension, .... 616 
The interval between Christ's resurrec- 
tion and his ascension, . . .617 
Christ's ascension, . . . 619 
T he necessity of Christ's ascension, 621 

'J he ends of Christ's ascension, . . 622 
Christ's session at the right hand of 
God, 623 


The Intercession of Christ, . 624 
The necessity of Christ's Intercession, 624 
Christ the only competent Intercessor, 625 
The Reality of Christ's Intercession, . 625 
The difference between Christ's Inter- 
cession and our prayers, , . 626 
The manner of Christ's Intercession, . 627 
The results of Christ's Intercession, 628 


Christ's Second Advent, . . 629 

The object and period of Christ's Se- 
cond Advent, . . , .629 
The manner of Christ's Second Advent, 631 


The Application of the Benefits of 

Redemption, .... 633 
What the benefits of Redemption are, 633 
The application of Redemption a Divine 

work, . .... 634 

How and to whom Redemption is applied, 634 


The Condition of those ■who are 
without the Gospel, . . 635 

Opinions and preliminary remarks re- 
specting the salvability of the heathen, 635 

No salvation except by knowledge and 
belief of the Gospel, . . .637 

Salvation only by Christ, . - 641 

Christ the SiJviour only of the Church, 647 


The influence which the different sentiments of men, in matters of religion, 
have, for the most part, on their temper and behaviour towards one another, 
aifords very little ground to expect that any attempt to explain or defend the 
most important doctrines of Christianity, should not be treated with dislike and 
opposition by some, how much soever it may afford matter of conviction to 
others. This consideration would have put a stop to my pen, and thereby 
saved me a great deal of fatigue, in preparing and publishing the following 
sheets, had it not been overbalanced by what I cannot, at present, think any 
other than a sense of duty, in compliance with the call of providence. I 
heartily wish there were no occasion to vindicate some of the great doctrines 
of the gospel, which are now from misrepresentation less generally received 
than in the last age, as though the method in which they have been explained 
led to licentiousness, and the doctrines themselves, especially those of election, 
particular redemption, efficacious grace, and some others which depend upon 
them, were inconsistent with the moral perfections of the Divine nature. 
These are now traduced by many, as though they were new and strange doc- 
trines, not founded on scripture, nor to be maintained by any just methods of 
reasoning deduced from it ; or as if the duties of practical religion could not 
be inculcated consistently therewith. If this insinuation were true, our preach- 
ing would be vain, our hope also vain, and we should be found false witnesses 
for God, and have no solid ground whereon to set our feet, — which would be 
a most tremendous thought. And if this be not sufficient to justify my pre- 
sent undertaking, I have nothing to allege of equal weight. 

I must confess, that when, about two years since, I took the first step for 
setting this design on foot, by consenting that proposals should be printed, I 
reckoned it little other than an expedient to disengage myself from any farther 
thoughts, and my friends from any expectation of it ; which I could not well 
do, but by having a proof of the backwardness of persons to encourage, by 
subscription, a work which would be so very expensive to the undertakers. 
But the design being countenanced beyond what I could have imagined, and 
copies subscribed for with more expedition than is usual, I was laid under an 
obligation immediately to prepare my notes for the press, and set forward the 
work, which, through the Divine goodness, has been thus far carried on ; and 
I cannot but take occasion to express my grateful acknowledgment of the re- 
spect that has been shown me, by those who have encouraged this undertak- 
ing. If it answer their expectation, and subserve their spiritual advantage, I 
shall count my labour well employed, and humbly ofier the glory thereof, as a 


tribute due to God, whose interest is the only thing that demands all our time, 
strength, and abilities. If I may but have a testimony from him that I have 
spoken nothing concerning him that is dishonouring to his name, unbecoming 
his perfections, or has a tendency to lead his people out of the right way to 
the glorifying and enjoying of him, my end is fully answered. Whatever 
weakness I have discovered arising from my being unequal to the greatness of 
the subjects discussed, I hope to be forgiven by God, whose cause I have en- 
deavoured to maintain, and to be excused by men, as I may truly say, I have 
not offered, to either him or them, what cost me nothing. I have, as far as I 
am able, adapted my method of reasoning to the capacities of those who are 
unacquainted with several abstruse and uncommon words and phrases which 
have been often used by some who have -treated these subjects, and which have 
a tendency rather to perplex than to improve the minds of men. Terms of 
art, as they are sometimes called, or hard words, used by metaphysicians and 
schoolmen, have done little service to the cause of Christ. 

If I have explained any doctrine, or given the sense of any scripture, in a 
way somewhat different from what is commonly received, I have never done it 
out of the least affectation of singularity, or taken pleasure in going out of the 
beaten path ; but have had as great a regard to the footsteps of the flock, as is 
consistent with that liberty of thinking and reasoning which we are allowed to 
use, who conclude nothing to be an infallible rule of faith, but the inspired 

As to what I have advanced concerning the eternal generation of the Son, 
and the procession of the Holy Ghost, I have thought myself obliged to recede 
from some common modes of explication, which have been used, both by ancient 
and modern writers, in discussing these mysterious doctrines, and which, if duly 
weighed, will probably appear not to have done any great service to the cause 
which, with convincing evidence, they have maintained. It is obvious that 
these modes of explication are what has principally given occasion to some 
modern Arians to hll the margins of their books with quotations from the writ- 
ings of others, whom they have either, without ground, pretended to be on 
their side of the question, or charged with plucking down with one hand what 
they have built up with the other. Whether my method of explaining these 
doctrines be reckoned just, or not, I cannot but persuade myself, that what I 
have said concerning the subordination of the Son and the Holy Ghost, if it 
be considered in any other view than as an explication of the Sonship the 
procession, will not be reckoned a deviating from the common faith of those 
who have defended the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity. And if it be an 
error to maintain that these Divine Persons, as well as the Father, are inde- 
pendent, as to their personality, as well as their essence, or to assert that the 
manner of their having the Divine essence, as some express it, is independent, 
as M'ell as the essence itself, then what I have delivered on that subject is to 
no purpose ; and when convinced of this. T shaii readily acknowledge my mis- 
take, and count it an happiness to be undeceived. 

As to what respects the decrees of God, and more particularly those that 
relate to angels and men, — his providence, as conversant about sinful actions, 
— and the origin of moral evil, 1 have endeavoured to account for them in such 
a way, as, I trust, does not, in the least, infer God to be the author of sin ; 
nor have I, in any instance, represented God as punishing sin, or determining 
to do it, out of his mere sovereignty, as though he designed to render his crea- 
tures miserable, without considering them as contracting guilt, and thereby 
originating their own misery. And in discussing the freeness of divine grace, 
and the Covenant of Grace, as made with Christ, and, in him, with the elect, 
and maintaining the absoluteness of grace, and its independence of the will of 
man to become effectual to salvation, i have said as much as is necessary con- 


cernin^ the conditionality of our claim to the blessings of the covenant, and 
the inseparable connection that there is between practical relig-ion and salva- 
tion, and thus have defended the doctrine against the charge which is often 
brought against it, that it leads to licentiousness. 

I could not omit to make this prefatory statement, that the reader might not 
entertain groundless prejudices against some of the doctrines discussed, before 
he duly weighs the method in which they are handled, or considers whether 
my defence of them against the popular objections be just or not. Some, it 
may be, will see reason to conclude that my defence of them is just ; and 
others, who think that there are many unsurmountable difficulties to our view 
of them, may be convinced that there are difficulties of another nature as great, 
if not greater, attending the opposite scheme, which they themselves maintain. 
But this I rather choose to submit to the impartial judgment of those who are 
not disposed to condemn a doctrine, without desiring to know what may be 
said in its defence. 

As to what concerns the work in general, it may be observed, that when I 
have occasion to illustrate an argument by making use of any criticism that 
may bear upon it, or to give the sense of ancient writers, either for or against 
what I have laid down, I have inserted my remarks in the margin, that they 
might not appear to be a digression, or break the thread of the discourse. I 
have also quoted at length most of the scriptures referred to in the margin, so 
that the words which are brought to prove or illustrate any particular head of 
doctrine, are connected with the discussion of it in one continued writing, and 
several repetitions of the same words thereby avoided.* 

The work is large, but the vast variety of subjects will render it more 
tolerable. The form in which it appears is somewhat diflFerent from that in 
which it was first delivered, in a public audience, though that may probably 
be no disadvantage to it, especially since it is rather designed to be read in 
families than committed to memory, and repeated by different persons, as it 
has been. The plainness of the style may contribute to its usefulness ; and 
its being less embarrassed with scholastic terms than some controversial writ- 
ings are, may render it more intelligible to private Christians, whose instruc- 
tion and advantage are designed thereby. It would be too great a vanity to 
expect that it should pass through the world without that censure which is 
common to all attempts of the like nature ; since men's sentiments in divinity 
differ as much as their faces, and some are not disposed to weigh those argu- 
ments that are brought to support any scheme of doctrine, which differs from 
what they have before received. However, the work comes forth with this 
advantage, that it has already conflicted with some of the difficulties it is likely 
to meet with, as well as been favoured with some success ; and, therefore, the 
event hereof is left in his hand whose cause and truth are endeavoured to be 

I have nothing farther to trouble the reader with in this preface ; but would 
only request, that, what thoughts soever he may entertain concerning the way 
in which I have endeavoured to state and defend some great and important 
truths, he would search the scriptures, and explain them agreeably to the 
Divine perfections, and not think the worse of the gospel on account of the 
weak efforts of fallible men who use their best endeavours to defend it. If we 
had not a surer rule of faith, than the methods of human reasoning, religion 
would be a matter of great uncertainty, and we should be in danger of being 
* tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.' But our 
best security against this, will be our having hearts ' established with grace/ 

[* Three sentences which refer to the mere indexing of the first edition are here omitted ; and 
those which form the next paragraph, are transposed from the end of the ' Introduction.' — Eu.J 



and rightly disposed to make a practical improvement of what we learn ; and, 
if we are enabled to follow on to know the Lord with minds free from preju- 
dice, and if, under a due sense of our own weakness, we humbly present our 
supplications to Him who is ' able to make us wise to salvation,' we may then 
hope to attain to that knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, which shall be 
attended with peace and comfort here, and crowned with blessedness and glory 
hereafter. • 

May the great God, in whose hand are the life and usefulness of all nu'ii, 
honour with his blessing what is humbly offered to his service, so far as it is 
adapted to it, and approved of by him, that hereby it may be conducive to the 
spiritual advantage of professing families, and the rising generation. 


Dr. Ridgeley's Body of Divinity, if viewed, not in any one point of light, 
but in all its aspects, will, probably, be pronounced the best book of its class. 
In criticism, in erudition, in polemical tact, in rhetorical beauty, or in some 
other solitary excellence, it has, no doubt, been surpassed ; but, in the aggre- 
gate properties of a luminous and well-adjusted summary of didactic and con- 
troversial theology, it has lived through upwards of a century without meeting 
its equal. No book in the English language, or, so far as I know, in any 
other, will serve so efficiently the purposes of a daily companion to a reflecting 
Christian in his inquiries into Divine truth, or a guide to a candidate tor the 
Christian ministry in introducing him to his theological studies. Its parts are 
in their due proportion, and its properties in their due degree. Subjects great 
and small are not set up in niches of equal space, but extended or compressed 
according to their relative magnitude in the system of Divine truth ; nor are 
they treated agreeably to the scope they afford for displaying the writer's ac- 
quirements and powers, and gratifying a popular taste for eloquence or a popu- 
lar admiration of scholarship, but discussed with entire reference to their own 
intrinsic claims upon both the writer's care and the reader's attention. Dr. 
Ridgeley has, on almost every topic which he touches, the happy but rare art 
of knowing when he has said enough ; and never, even when drawn, in justice 
to his subject, into extended dissertation, does he appear to forget that his 
work demands due space for the whole circle of revealed truths. He is not 
tempted, by love of declamation or of oratorical flourish, to write a sermon in- 
stead of a disquisition ; nor by keenness of controversial spirit, to write long 
and arduously when an opponent is in the field, and not to write at all when 
no opponent, or but an insignificant one, appears; nor by attachment to a 
party, or fondness for denominational peculiarities, to write munificently in 
favour of his sect, and write like a niggard when the interests of his sect are 
out of view; nor by aptitude for abstract thinking, or critical analysis, or display 
of erudition, to array some topics in the glitter and gorgeousness of metaphy- 
sics and bibliographical scholarship, and either to append to minor or plain 
topics some trappings of learnedness, or to pass them undiscussed. His Body 
of Divinity is eminently distinguished by sound sense. We look in vam 
throughout its pages for any indications of the pedant, the bibliographe, the 
theorist, or the declaimer, and see only the labours of a sober, judicious divine. 
But the prime excellence of Dr. Ridgeley's work is its simply evangelical 
character. He is, in all respects, what, in current phrase, is called a modern or 
moderate Calvinist ; jet he calls no man on earth master, but draws his senti- 


merits directly from the word of God. Though he uses the Assembly's Larger 
Catechism to give method and proportion to his prelections, he studies to ex- 
plain, not any system of man, not Divine truth as moulded and superscribed 
by any human school of theology, but the doctrines of revelation simply as 
they present themselves in the sacred page. His book is not a tank, long, and 
laboriously filled with drainings from the roofs of human dwellings ; but, in a 
great degree, the pure and pebbly strand conveying living water, limpid as it 
flows from the fountain of truth. He thinks on most subjects for himself, tak- 
ing only the word of God for his guide ; and is far from being a slave to the 
authority of great names among men, or to the influence of phraseology, which, 
though not found in the Rible, enjoys a p'-es^pptivf* repi'ti*"'on of being ortho- 
dox. His general piacdce is to biing-e', try mode of expression, no matter how 
generally sanctioned, to the test of scripture ; and, though he brings out essen- 
tially the same results, or propounds radically the same doctrines, as are meant ' 
to be taught by language which he discards, he exhibits them with superior 
clearness and simplicity, and commends them with superior effect to the un- 
derstanding and the heart. He is strongly averse, in particular, to the bewil- 
dering refinements, the multitudinous distinctions, and the complex and meta- 
physical expositions of the scholastic theology. In some instances, M'hen he 
conceives them to have seriously obscured the truth or sanctioned error, he 
carefully analyzes them, and exposes their tendency ; in other instances, when 
he feels them to be merely an encumbrance, he silently throws thpm aside, and 
exhibits his topics through the lucid medium of simple scriptural illustration ; 
and, in general, he strives to write as if Aristotle's dialectics had never been 
enthroned in schools of theology, and the philosophy of the heathens never 
empowered to communicate its aspirings and its diction to ministers of the 
Christian faith. His work, as a whole, is, in consequence, remarkable for its 
combination of the most grave discussion and profound reasoning, with great 
clearness of conception and simplicity of statement ; and it not unfrequentiy 
makes a difficult or an abstruse subject easy of comprehension to an untutored 
mind, when a work written in the scholastic manner would make a plain or 
obvious one nearly unintelligible. 

In its original form, however, Dr. Ridgeley's Body of Divinity is marred by 
several important blemishes. " His fitness for the office of theological tutor,' 
say Drs. Bogue and Bennet, in their History of Dissenters, " may be safely 
inferred from the lectures to his students, published in two folio volumes, com- 
posing a Body of Divinity. That they display soundness of judgment, exten- 
sive learning, and an intimate acquaintance with the sacred oracles, every im- 
partial reader will allow. That he was a Calvinist, when we have mentioned 
his connexions, needs scarcely be told ; but he diff"ers, in several instances, 
from their commonly received opinions, and discovers a freedom of thought 
which shows a man determined to explain the scriptures for himself. Had his 
style hut possessed neatness, elegance, and force, xcliat additional value it 
would have imparted to his ample treasures of sacred truth!"* His style 
is certaiidy extremely rugged. Had it but possessed a moderate polish, 
or had it even been free from great roughness and positive opacity, his 
book could scarcely have failed to command a lasting and most extensive 
popularity. But he off"ends readers of almost every class by his inelegan- 
cies, calls off their attention from his subject by his solecisms and gramma- 
tical inaccuracies, and not unfrequentiy perplexes or stultifies them by his 
ambiguities. One object of the present edition is to free his work from these 
defects. Every literary person — especially if he have had a little practice in 
preparing compositions by various writers for the press — is aware to what a 

* Vol, iii. pp. 282, 283. 


great extent verbal alterations may be made upon an author, without, in the 
slio-htest degree, modifying his meaning, and even without perceptibly affect- 
ing his characteristic manner. To modernize an antiquated composition, 
or to beautify a vulgar one, is a very different process from pruning one, 
essentially correct and vigorous, of expressions which offend the taste or per- 
plex the understanding. Dr. Ridgeley's style, exceedingly faulty though it 
was, required, in the Editor's judgment, no more than to be freed from its 
minor blemishes, and especially from its ambiguities, in order to appear, what 
Drs. Bogue and Bennet desiderate, " neat, elegant, and forcible." Nor has 
the Editor, in his attempts to improve it, made one-third the number of verbal 
alterations which, in the estimation of competent judges, might have fully 
comported with the preservation of its identity or distinctive character. He has 
substituted approved words for vulgar or obsolete ones ; he has transposed ad- 
verbs and clauses so as to bring them into due collocation with the words which 
they qualify ; he has repeated a nominative when it stood too far in the dis- 
tance to be identified with a personal pronoun ; he has broken up into conse- 
cutive order clusters of antecedents and relatives so hung together as to appear 
an undistinguishable mass ; he has erased or altered expletives, lopped off re- 
dundancies, supplied obscure ellipses, and endeavoured to introduce a luminous 
punctuation ; but, after all, he has not interfered with the author's manner^ but 
has only removed impediments to his being understood, — labouring to improve, 
not his elegance, nor what is rhetorically termed style^ but simply his perspi- 
cuity. The Editor may state, too, that, in his verbal alterations and trans- 
positions, he has faithfully and sedulously guarded against interfering, in the 
remotest degree, with any sentiment of the author, or even with a perceptible 
shading of the most subordinate idea. Frequently, in dealing with Dr. 
Ridgeley's multitudinous and very serious ambiguities, he read passages several 
times, repeatedly examined them in their contextual connexion, and even, in 
some instances, compared them with parallel or kindred passages in other parts 
of the work, before he allowed himself to be quite assured as to the precise 
ideas which were meant to be expressed ; and whenever he did not obtain en- 
tire conviction, or whenever the least ground remained for doubt that persons 
of different views might contend for different meanings, he chose — especially 
as the aggregate number of such cases was very small — rather to let the am- 
biguities remain, than to incur even a remote risk of altering the sense, or 
shake the confidence of the most fastidious reader in the integrity of the work. 
Another blemish in former editions of Dr. Ridgeley's Body of Divinity, was 
numerousness and intricacy of methodical divisions. He derived this peculiar- 
ity, indeed, from the custom of his age ; but, probably, carried it a much 
greater length than any contemporary writer. Divisions, redivisions, subdivi- 
sions, and re-subdivisions sometimes expanded like so many concentric circles, 
and revolved before the eye each in its series of distinctive marks and figures, 
till they became as unmeaning and confounding to the reader, as the mazy 
movements of a complex machine are to a man ignorant of mechanics. So in- 
tricate, in fact, were the subdivisions, that some of them appear to have per- 
lexed even the author, or at least to have escaped from their due place, when 
e was reading his proof sheets ; for, in the original edition of his work — ■ 
which has been throughout employed in preparing the present edition — they, 
in some instances, are confounded with one another, or appear with inappro- 
priate marks. Considerable care was requisite so to remove this heavy and 
couipact scaffolding, as* not to deface the edifice which it was employed to con- 
struct. By various devices, however, such as the introduction ol sectional titles 
to the separable parts of a dissertation, and the substitution of particles of 
marked transition for a r.ipid series of minor figures, the Editor hopes that, 
without really altering Dr. Ridgeley's methodical arrangements, he has so 


XIV THE editor's PREFACE. 

simplified them as to render luminous what was obscure, and obvious what was 

But the chief . defect of- Dr. Ridgeley — at least in the estimation of plain 
Christians, who wish to see truth only in the simple g-aib of scriptural state- 
ment, and have no taste for the meritricious adornings of false philosophy — is 
his having- failed to carry out to its due limits his own important and distin- 
guishing- principle of bringing fully to the test the distinctions and refinements 
of the scholastic theologians. " I have, as far as lam able," he says, " adapted 
my method of reasoning to the capacities of those who are unacquainted with 
several abstruse and uncommon words and phrases which have been often used 
by some who have treated these subjects, and which have a tendency rather to 
perplex than to improve the minds of men. Terms of art, as they are some- 
times called, or hard words used by metaphysicians and schoolmen, have done 
little service to the cause of Christ." In his repelling scholasticism, and writ- 
ing as if the Christian faith had never been arrayed in the trappings of heathen 
philosophy, he certainly shot far a-head of his age, and stamped upon his Body 
of Divinity a value which could not have belonged to it had it been written, 
like almost every book of its class, in a technical and metaphysical manner ; 
yet, on several very important doctrines, as well as on numerous subordinate 
topics, he retains, either altogether or to a considerable degree, distinctions and 
systematic phrases coined by scholastic or philosophizing divines out of the 
base metal of Aristotle's dialectics, which, however current or however pro- 
scriptively orthodox, do not bear the superscription of heaven, and cannot add 
to the wealth of a man who desires to know Divine truth just as it is taught in 
the Bible. In some instances, he appears not to have detected the purely 
scholastic origin of refinements which long and general currency seemed to 
have sanctioned as unquestionably scriptural ; and, in other instances, while 
not unaware of the utter absence of Divine sanction, he is prevailed upon by 
courtesy, or by amiable but undue deference to prevailing opinion, to invent 
plausible interpretations of phrases and dogmas which, when severely or even 
slightly tested by appeal to the word of God, are entirely indefensible. Though 
he excels other writers of Bodies of Divinity in freedom from the trappings of 
system and technicality and metaphysics, he still wears, if not the full unitorm, 
at least the badge and the collar of scholasticism. Bold, on many points, to 
think for himself, and to study and write only in the light of scripture ; he is, 
notwithstanding, timid or blindfold on others, and shrinks from the singularity 
of being the first to break every bond of connection between the theology oi 
the Bible, and the heathenized theology of the Middle ages. Had he kept 
steadily in view his own prefatorial declaration, that " terms of art or hard 
words used by metaphysicians and schoolmen have done little service to the 
cause of Christ," and had he been less complaisantly desirous not to ruffle the 
equanimity of his systematic and philosophizing theological contemporaries, 
he could hardly, with his fine taste for the simplicity of heavenly truth, and his 
intimate acquanitance with the sacred oracles, and his exquisite skill in making 
an evangelical doctrine appear tenfold more luminous when viewed apart trom 
technical definitions, have failed to roll away from before the doctrines of grace 
or of modern Calvinism those fogs which have long bewildered disciples, and 
prevented the friendly approach of opponents. Seeing, as he does, how un- 
warrantable it is to apply technical distinctions to the doctrine of the Trinity, 
or to speak of faith as the condition of justification, he needed but a further 
exercise of his spirit of humble but faithful scrutiny, in order to see the equaj 
unwarrantableness of applying technical distinctions to the everlasting purposes 
of the Divine mind, or to speak of the economy established with Adam as a 
covenant, of the various kinds and actings of faith, or of vowing and covenant* 
ing as part of the right observance of the eucharist. 


The Editor, it will be seen, has appended about one hundred Notes — some 
of the length of essays or short dissertations — to various parts of Dr. Ridge- 
ley's work. Most of these are intended, like the best and most distinctive parts 
of the work itself, to exhibit simply in the light of scripture, truths which are 
usually seen in the flickering glare of the schoolmen's flambeaux. Such read- 
ers as are partial to the scholastic theology, and never think a doctrine soundly 
stated except when dressed out in scholastic phrases and distinctions, will, of 
course, think the Editor's labour worse than thrown away. These, however, 
are not the persons who are likely to have a taste for Ridgeley in any form; — 
though, should any of them look into the present edition, they may be reminded 
that, in the conviction of men who look at doctrines without peering through 
a human medium, to exhibit the economy established with Adam as, not a 
covenant, but a sovereign institution of the Divine will, and faith as, not of 
various kinds, but various only in its objects, is not to deny the doctrines of 
original sin and of faith being a divine and sovereign grace, but to place these 
doctrines in the strongest because the simplest light, and to recommend them 
with the most forcible because purely scriptural evidence. Men who are at- 
tached to current extra-scriptural phrases, or who love to see a doctrine as 
complex, and profound, and prolific of distinctions as ingenuity can make it, 
are not likely, in the first instance at least, to relish either Dr. Ridgeley or 
his Editor ; yet the moment they begin to see how much more beautiful a 
truth is when displayed in its own simplicity, than when disfigured by techni- 
cal adornings, they will feel an incipient regret that Dr. Ridgeley's scruthiiz- 
ing spirit did not circulate through every limb of his Body of Divinity, and, 
probably, may regard the present edition, with its appendage of Notes, as 
alive and energetic from core to extremity. 

In writing Notes, whose object was not to discard scholastic refinements, the 
Editor's motives were various. In some instances,- he presumed — very fool- 
ishly perhaps — to give fulness to an incomplete statement ; in others, he sup- 
plied thoughts which the condition of science or of biblical criticism in Dr. 
Ridgeley's days did not enable him to possess ; in others, he attempted, in 
brief space, to furnish an outline of definition and argument on topics which 
Dr. Ridgeley had omitted to notice ; in others, he submitted views of impor- 
tant texts of scripture which he conceived more consonant with the context 
and with evangelical principles than those generally entertained ; and in one 
instance — strangely enough — he saw Dr. Ridgeley, as he believed, mistaking that 
for a scholastic invention which is a fact stated by revelation, and felt himself 
incited humbly and reverentially to attempt to show, that, while " the eternal 
generation" of the Woud and the modus of the Divine subsistence are mat- 
ters on which the scriptures maintain silence, the fact of our Lord's divine 
Sonship, or of 'the Son of God' being strictly a Divine title, is an obvious 
and important part of a Christian's faith. Respecting the propriety, or even 
the doctrinal truth, of not a few of his Notes, conflicting opinions may proba- 
bly be entertained. He has tried, however, — after the example of the eminent 
Author whom he has presumed to annotate, — not to write in slavish subservi- 
ency to prevailing habits of phraseology, but, even at the hazard of being 
thought rash and unskilful, to carry reputed beauties in theological language 
from under the dim light of the taper, to seat them under the solar effulgence 
which beams from the page of revelation, and to invite attention to the claims 
which, as seen there, they have upon a Christian's admiration. His Notes, as 
nearly as he could judge and perform, have been constructed in keeping with 
the spirit and manner of the work which they accompany. He once thought 
of appending to Dr. Ridgeley's discussion of each doctrine directions as to the 
best writers, on both sides of the question, who might be read in order to at- 
tain a full acquaintance with the subject ; but he was deterred both by the 


unpretending yet really effective style of Dr. Ridgeley's own bibliographical 
hints, and by the alternative of either furnishing a dry and almost useless cata- 
logue of names and titles, or attempting such formal critiques as, no matter 
how condensed, would have amounted in the aggregate to a miniature 

The Editor feels, with shame, that he has said enough, far more than 
enough, respecting his own dwarfish labours, and by no means any thing like 
enough respecting the gigantic toils of his Author. Yet as his claims to no- 
tice are, strictly speaking, those of the present edition of Dr. Ridgeley, and not 
those of the Editor, he may be allowed to add, that, besides the improvements 
which have been already mentioned, " the Body of Divinity" is now, for the 
first time, enriched with a biographical sketch of its distinguished Author, — 
that it is accompanied with copious, general tables of contents, adapted to the 
sectional divisions which have been introduced, — and that, though the additions 
to the work, in the form of Notes, Index, Sketch, and otherwise, would amount, 
in the usual style of publishing, to a considerable duodecimo, the preparation 
of them has not occasioned more than one-third of the labour which has been 
expended on achieving results, which will not meet the reader's eye, — the cor- 
rection of language and punctuation, and the simplifying of the forms or an- 
nouncements of methodical arrangement. He may now leave the Publishers 
to speak, in addition, of a clearer type, a better paper, and a lower price than 
in former editions. In conclusion, he fervently and humbly expresses a desire 
that He who leads Joseph like a flock, may bless the work as an instrument 
both of bringing the lambs to be carried in his bosom, and of ' gently leading 
those which are with young;' of imparting elementary saving knowledge to 
youthful inquirers, and of guiding matured Christians and candidates for the 
pastoral office into a course of scriptural, devout, studious, theological inves- 


Thomas Ridgeley was born in London about the year 1667. He appears 
to have had his desires early turned to the office of the Christian ministry ; and, 
at a proper age, entered a private seminary in Wiltshire, where he enjoyed a 
suitable training. After finishing his academical course he returned to Lon- 
don ; and, in 1695, was chosen assistant to the Rev. Thomas Gouge, the pas- 
tor of an Independent church, now extinct, which met at the Three Cranes, 
near Thames-street. Li 1697, the church was thrown into confusion, partly 
by some imprudent language of a preacher who delivered a weekly lecture in 
their place of worship, and partly by a dispute between them and Mr. Gouge 
respecting a person who was proposed for fellowship. They, in consequence, 
lost several of their members, and sank into a diminished and low condition. 
Mr. Gouge, worn by unremitting application to study, and agitated by care 
and vexation, fell under a train of disorders, which, on the 8th of January, 
1699-70, tenninated in his death. Mr. Ridgeley now succeeded to the pas- 
toral charge of the church, and to the arduous duty of repairing the disasters 
which had been laying it waste. Though, probably, not what is usually 
styled a popular preacher, and though certainly defective in those graces of 
diction which are pleasing to all persons and fascinating to many, he excelled 
in those qualifications which constitute a man ' an able minister of the New 
Testament,' and appears also to have possessed tact and discretion to work his 
way well through circumstances of difficulty and excitement. The church, at 
all events, speedily revived under his pastoral care, and, in the enjoyment ot 
the Divine blessing, continued in a prosperous state, though never very large 
in numbers, during the whole period of his ministry. As a pastor, he was held 
in high esteem by his people; and, as a preacher, was in great reputation among 
discerning and judicious hearers. His ministry at the Three Cranes extended 
through the long period of nearly forty years, and, towards its close, was aided 
by the services of several assistants. 

A few years after his pastoral settlement, Mr. Ridgeley was elected one of 
the six ministers of the Merchant's Lecture, which was delivered every Tues- 
day morning at Pinner's Hall ; about the same time, he was elected to take 
part in the Thursday evening lecture, at Jewin-street ; and during a consider- 
able period of his life — in conjunction, first, with the Rev. John Billingsley of 
Crutched Friars, and next with the Rev. James Wood of the Weigh-House — he 
conducted an evening lecture, on the Lord's day, at the Old Jewry. His 
labours in connexion with these lectures seem to have been much appreciated, 
or at least were sufficientlv noticed, to induce him to send to press some pro- 


ductions of his pen. He published, in 1717, " The Abuse of Feasting and 
Recreations, considered in a Sermon at the evening lecture in Jewin-street ;" 
in 1719, " The advantage of falling into the hand of God, rather than man; 
a Sermon preached at the evening lecture in the Old Jewry, on the death of 
Mr. Nathan Hall, who was found murdered by a highwayman;" and, in 1725, 
" The doctrine of Original Sin considered ; being the substance of two Ser- 
mons at Pinnar's Hall; with a postscript." Previous to the last of these dates, 
he published also " A Sermon on the death of Mrs. Gertrude Clarkson," " A 
Sermon preached at the funeral of Mrs. Elizabeth Banks," and " A Discourse 
concerning the Origin and Superstitious observance of Religious festivals." 

In 1712, upon the death of Dr. Chauncey, the first tutor of the oldest In- 
dependent college in Britain, Mr. Ridgeley succeeded him in the theological 
chair. The place where the lectures to the students were delivered, is said to 
have been Tenter-alley, in Moorfields. The successional college of the pre- 
sent day, however, is that of Homerton ; quite as respectably presided over 
now by the revered Dr. John Pye Smith, as it was, in the days of its infancy 
and youth, by Drs. Chauncey and Ridgeley. Mr. Ridgeley's coadjutor in the 
classical department, while he himself taught theology, — and his successor, in his 
own office, after his death, — was the eminent John Eames, F.R.S., — an adept 
in literature, and an universal scholar, whom the celebrated Dr. Watts pro- 
nounced " the most learned man he ever knew." Mr. Eames taught the lan- 
guages and mathematics, and delivered prelections on moral and natural philo- 
sophy ; leaving the expansive and paramount subject of theology to occupy, 
as it ought, the undivided attention of his distinguished colleague. Whether 
Mr. Ridgeley delivered other prelections from the chair than those which com- 
pose his Body of Divinity, and what methods of training he adopted for matur- 
ing the knowledge and forming the pastoral character of his students, are facts 
not known ; but, judging from the solicitude he displays to shut up every inlet of 
error, and his high estimate of the qualifications which a Christian pastor should 
possess, his proceedings in the college must have been sedulously directed to the 
production of nice and practical results. As a theological tutor, not only was 
he fully versed in every subject which might be discussed, and in the principles 
of every criticism which might be required, and in the opinions of every author 
who might be in question, but he possessed conciliating manners, great apti- 
tude to communicate instruction, an accurate judgment as to the adaptation of 
any means to its proposed end, and apparently also warm concern to make his 
professorial labours in every possible way efficient. Whatever were his parti- 
cular practices in superintending and educating his students, he confessedly was 
honoured with much success, and enjoyed the happiness of sending out to the 
Independent churches many ministers who were distinguished alike for their 
intellectual acquirements and for their pastoral and personal excellencies. Mr. 
Ridgeley used care, not only that his own duties should be rightly performed, 
but that his students should exhibit a fair promise of becoming tuUy able, 
through the Divine blessing, to perform theirs. In consequence of a complaint 
lodged with him, that some young men, chiefly the sons of ministers or of 
eminent private Christians, after completing their studies for the ministry, had 
not preached the gospel in a sufficiently lucid and zealous manner, — and in 
consequence also, we may presume, of prompt measures which he adopted to 
respond to the complaint and to attack the evil to which it pointed, — a society 
of devout men, matured and discriminating Christians, was formed to encour- 
age young men of decided piety and talent to aspire to the pastoral office, and 
to exercise vigilant care that none were admitted to the theological college who 
did not, in addition to displaying good natural abilities, aliord convincing evi- 
dence of being savingly converted to God, and thoroughly sound in the faith. 
Who that reflects on this fact, and that marks the sensitive interest in the 


honour of the house of God, apparent in every part of Dr. Ridg-eley's writin<rs, 
and especially in those portions of his Body of Divinity which treat of the con- 
stitution of a Christian church, and of the qualifications and duties of a Chris- 
tian pastor, can doubt that, as a theological tutor, he zealously laboured, in 
dependence on the Divine blessing, to fashion the young men under his care 
into the mould, not only of systematic divines, and correct thinkers, and able 
expounders of the dogmata of theology, but of humble, affectionate, unctuous, 
heavenly-minded pastors of the sheep and the lambs purchased with the blood 
of Christ ? There are altogether too much formality, too much of routine, too 
much of set-performance and of stiff adherence to rule and method, in many of 
the processes currently practised for training the rising ministry. Mr. Ridge- 
ley was a stranger to these : at least, we utterly mistake the watchful, reflect- 
ing, practical, solicitous spirit which pervades his writings, and which breathes, 
and breathes most redolently, in the few surviving facts of his history, if he was 
not, just as truly, and in all the details of adapting his efforts to particular 
emergencies and to the peculiar circumstanpes of individuals, a theological tutor 
who dealt closely and searchingly with every student under his care, as, in his 
pastoral capacity, he was doubtless an overseer of souls who ' watched as one 
that must give account.' 

While Mr. Ridgeley filled the principal theological chair connected with the 
Independent churches, Arianism or Unitarianism — that most rampant of all 
heresies, which, during the fourth century, threatened far more than all " the 
ten persecutions" to extirpate Christianity, and which, in .modern England, 
rapidly reduced the presbyterian denomination from being greatly the ascen- 
dant body of dissenters to a state in which they had scarcely " a local habita- 
tion and a name'* — broke out with a virulence which, by combined wiliness and 
energy, menaced the whole community of nonconformist churches with de- 
struction. To add to the confusion of the scene, the orthodox ministers were 
warmly divided among themselves as to the scriptural propriety of subscribing 
a summary of faith condemnatory of the menacing heresy. Some regarded 
subscription as a bowing to the Baal of human authority ; while others re- 
garded it — especially in the instance in question, when no human, and parti- 
cularly no magisterial authority interfered to impose it, and when it was pre 
scribed by the voluntary act of the parties concerned in it, and was virtually 
but a pious and solemn yet deliberate and most resolute declaration of opinion 
— as a salutary, scriptural, effective, and even necessary means of making a 
decided stand against ruinous error. Mr. Ridgeley took the part — and he took 
it boldly and firmly — of the subscribers. The distinction seems not to have 
been made before his days, and was but dimly seen by himself, and obscurely 
exhibited in his own writings, between a declaration and a creed, or between a 
profession of faith as decreed and made unalterable by man, and a profession 
of faith as simply stating the belief of subscribers at the moment of subscrip- 
tion, and as open to revision and amendment proportionably to increased ac- 
quaintance with the Divine word, and growing illumination by the teaching 
of the Divine Spirit. Mr. Ridgeley thought merely of the fearful heresy 
which seemed, like the bursting of a vast lake, to be silently, but with the 
force of a torrent, about to carry away before it the spiritual comfort and the 
religious homes of the evangelical nonconformist communities of England. His 
zeal — warm and inflexible, though calculating and based upon matured and 
heartfelt inquiry — was directed, not against any party system, but against what 
he knew, what he felt, to be doctrines dishonouring to God, and killing to the 
human soul. For once, perhaps, his usual and almost instinctive judiciousness 
forsook him. Believing the essential and saving doctrines of our Lord's true 
deity, and of his meritorious substitutionary atonement, to be in danger, he 
looked around him — too much, possibly, with a querulous eye — for causes 


which had brouijht them into question ; and he very readily, though some- 
what hastily, concluded that the minute and metaphysical accounts which, 
first the schoolmen, and next orthodox protestant divines, in imitation of their 
example, had g^iven of " the eternal generation of the Son," and " the proces- 
sion of the Holy Spirit," and which men of bold temperament who attempted 
to comprehend the most sublime topics of revelation, and refu:^id to credit 
whatever was too large for the grasp of their feeble reason, had ostentatiously 
quoted, and held up to condemnation, had been a chief occasion, possibly the 
only one, of the revival of Arianism. He hence was very naturally led to 
adopt extreme opinions in opposition to these scholastic refinements. Consi- 
dering his admirable zeal for the cause of evangelical truth, and the peculiar 
circumstances in which theological science was placed — loaded with technical- 
ities, trapped in innumerable distinctions, and encumbered, among the ortho- 
dox, with constant attempts to become 'wise above that which is written' — 
we need not wonder that he discarded the received doctrines of the Holy Spirit 
proceeding from the Father and the Son, and of the Son being eternally be- 
gotten of the Father. But whatever may be thought of his judiciousness, or 
of the extent to which he carried his independence of thinking, and his dislike 
of philosophizing in religion, there can be but one opinion as to his ardent attach- 
ment to the doctrines which the Unitarianism of his day impugned. At the 
very outbreak of the heresy in 1718, and during the succeeding years of its 
attracting considerable notice, he appeared, both as a preacher and as a writer, 
in the van of its oj)ponents, and was regarded by the subscribing part of the 
orthodox as a leader in their cause. Several Arians took advantatfe of the 
facility of non-subscription, to conceal their real sentiments, and to move un- 
suspected or at least unexposed among those of the orthodox who did not sub- 
scribe; and they possessed sufiicient influence — aided by the unnecessary alarm 
of the non-subscribing orthodox for the rights of spiritual liberty, and the dan- 
ger of human authority in religion — to raise a noisy outcry against the testing 
of sincerity, and the pledging of orthodoxy, by subscription. Mr. Ridgeley, 
finding the subscribing party with whom he acted violently assailed, publicly 
assumed the championship of their cause, and defended their conduct from the 
press. In 1719, he published a tractate entitled "The unreasonableness of 
the charge of imposition exhibited against several dissenting ministers, in and 
about London, considered; and the dilTerence between creed-making as prac- 
tised in former ages, and their late conduct in declaring their faith in the doc- 
trine of the Blessed Trinity, stated and argued ;" — and, in 1721, he published 
" An Essay concerning Truth and Charity, in two parts ; containing, first, 
an inquiry concerning fundamental articles of faith, and the necessity of adher- 
ing to them in order to church-communion ; and, secondly, some historical re- 
marks on the behaviour of the Jews and primitive Christians, toward those 
who had either departed from the faith, or by any other means rendered them- 
selves liable to excommunication; showing, also, what is that uncharitableness 
which discovers itself in the conduct of men towards one another." He, as a 
matter of course, encountered much obloquy, and even received ill-will; which, 
no doubt, — among the presumptuous of his opponents who writhed under de- 
feat, or among the feeble who could not attempt even a plausible defence, — 
were proportioned to the decisiveness of his success. What he strove for in 
the by-play of the controversy, was not the cause of subscription to a creed iu 
any such view or use of the practice as is current in the Established churches, 
but essentially the unmasking of Arians, and the vindication, from the charge 
of uncharitableness, of men who made a resolute stand against the wily aggies 
sions of the Arian heresy. He must have been grieved that the orthodox 
were divided iu opinion, as to the proper maimer in which Arianism should be 
detected and repelled j and both because the mass of the non-subscribers were 


as affectionately zealous for the truth as himself, and because he enjoyed a 
spirituality of temper which mellowed every thing controversial which he pro- 
duced, he wrote on the question of subscription with a mildness and a glow of 
charity rarely exhibited in the unceremonious literature of his age. As a con- 
troversialist, indeed, he was gentle almost to a fault. When vanquishing and 
utterly spoiling an opponent, he appears as if shedding tears over his sad plight 
before he can take courage to carry away a trophy ; and when meeting a doubt- 
ful foe, he usually gives him the benefit of every explanation which can be 
made lavourably to his cause, and even at times directs him to a retreat which, 
if discovered and run to by himself, would be esteemed a mere subterfuge. His 
singular generosity, however, is displayed only on questions of comparatively 
minor importance, and does not interfere with a sturdy stanchness, which 
equally distinguishes his character, in stating and defending, in the 'face ot all 
consequences, and down to the smallest detail, the great doctrines of revealed 

In 1731 appeared the first edition of Mr. Ridgeley's great work — that in 
connexion with which chiefly his name lives in history, and whose influence, 
as an instrument for good, will probably render him celebrated and useful for 
generations to come — his Body of Divinity. Whether this valuable produc- 
tion is in substance what he prepared for the instruction of his students when 
he was appointed to the professorship of theology, or whether it is the fruit ol 
matured thinking, and of frequent emendation, suppression, and enlargement 
during the period of his filling the professorial office, is not known. For many 
reasons, however, especially on account of the exquisite symmetry and theolo- 
gical finish of the work, the latter is the more likely to be the fact. The 
Notes, a few of which are elaborate, while almost all are excellent, and add 
much to the value of the text, bear very decided marks of having been written 
after he resolved to publish. Many portions of the staminal part of the work, 
too, are so nicely judicious, so ripe in thought, so mel-low and odoriferous in 
matured reflection, that if they were not written, or at least revised, many years 
after he became a professor, he must have been, at an earlier age than is com- 
mon with even great men, an accomplished scholar and a profound divine. 
On the supposition that he wrote his great work, and placed it in its perma- 
nent condition, immediately after his professorial appointment, what a grievous 
pity that he did not afterwards write some other work which might have be- 
queathed to posterity the rich accumulations of his subsequent experience and 
study ! In that case, he must be ranked with many a brilliant but over-sen- 
sitive and over-modest mind which has lit up but one taper to shed light on 
generations, when it might have poured over them an illuminating stream from 
a cluster of burners. His Body of Divinity was published in two volumes folio, 
containing a likeness of the author, a preface explaining his plan and apolo- 
gizing for his departure from the beaten but thorny track of scholasticism, and 
a long list of respectable subscribers, who encouraged him in his undertaking, 
and expressed their confidence in his eminent abilities, by pledging themselves 
to purchase copies. Flattering testimonies of approbation, immediately alter 
the appearance of the work, were poured in upon him from all parts of Eng- 
land, and even from some places in Scotland. The University of Aberdeen, 
in particular, attested their appreciation of his worth, and of the service he had 
done to the religious public, by conferring upon him the highest literary honour 
they could bestow,. — the degree of Doctor in Divinity. The first edition ot 
his work having been rapidly sold, and encouragements of the most cheering 
kind having been given him to regard it as an instrument of good to many, he 
was induced to undertake a second edition —which, however, did riot appear 
till the year of his death, three years after the publication of the first. In 
1770, the work was, in a third edition, compressed into one volume folio, and 


published in Scotland. Since that period, it has appeared in the dress of four 
octavos; but has, for many years, been scarce, and — except among the happy 
few who refuse to lay an antiquated but most instructive author on the shelf, 
in order to keep pace with the rapidly accumulating literature of our book- 
making age — comparatively neglected. A taste, however, for the racy and 
substantial theological writings of the days of Britain's moral giants has of late 
revived ; and it will scarcely fail to adopt, as one of the richest dishes of its 
multifarious banquet for the intellect and the soul, Dr. Ridgeley's Body of 

As to the known facts of Dr. Ridgeley's history, few, exceedingly few, 
things remain to be told. Either he must have been a man of extremely re- 
tired habits — shrinking from the broad gaze of society, and clinging tena- 
ciously to his desk and his post of prayer — or he must, as to the commemorat- 
ing of his excellencies, have fallen between the stools of two friends who relied 
each on the other for doing him justice with posterity, and who one or both 
did not live to perform the wish of their heart. But the memory of the just is 
blessed. Though Dr. Ridgeley, notwithstanding all his eminence, does not 
figure in any lengthened biography, and fails — possibly through no fault of his 
own — to attract men by the storied picture of his excellencies, and instruct 
them by the recorded lessons of hi* example, he doubtless is ' had in everlast 
ing remembrance,' and ' shines as the brightness of the firmament' in heaven, 
and even on earth appears far more accurately portrayed and monumented in 
his writings, than he could ever have been by the united labours of the artist 
and the biographer. The mind, the thoughts, the workings of the heart and 
the conceptions of the soul, and not the outward circumstances, the vicissitudes 
in place and health, in relationships and temporal successes, evince the man ; 
and these, as to any person who has written under the solemn influence of at- 
tempting to convey or elucidate Divine instruction to his fellow-creatures, 
appear with incomparably more animation and fulness in his publications, than 
in the best story which even an impartial friend could narrate of his actions. 
Dr. Ridgeley appears to have deeply relished Divine truth for the sake of its 
own enjoyments, — its hallowing impressions on the soul, and its consoling 
power upon the heart ; yet he possessed little of the ardour and impassioned 
unctuousness which so generally distinguished the nonconformist writers of 
former days, but was characterized rather by habits of calm, contemplative, in- 
tellectual meditation. He was strong in judgment, strong in purpose, and, 
probably, strong in the faith and the activities of Christian life, but feeble in 
what the phrenologists term "ideality." Though very far from being destitute 
of feeling, he seems, as a writer at least, to have, in general, been able so to 
keep down the sensibilities of his nature as to let them mingle in a much less 
proportion than is common among authors of his class with the effusions of his 
intellect. His writings, of course, derived, as to their didactic and controver- 
sial qualities, no small advantage from the coolness combined with the energy 
of his mind. Two eminent features stamped upon them are comprehensive- 
ness and model ation. He was never so carried away by any impulse into the 
excessive pursuit of one prominent idea as to neglect the due exhibition of the 
thoughts with which it was naturally allied, or so excited in encountering an 
opponent, or disposing of a difficulty, as to lose sight, in any degree, of the 
systematic and illustrative parts of his subject; nor was he tempted, by respect 
for prevailing custom, to push any doctrine beyond the limits visibly impressed 
on it in the Divine Moid, — or, by attachment to a party or a theological school, 
to dress out a tenet in language studiedly or unnecessarily repulsive to its op- 
ponents, — or, by fondness for victory, to say more against the arguments of 
an errorist than was simply requisite to extract their sting and vindicate the 
truth. His entire dealing with opponents, in fact, usually displayed a com- 


bination, rarely witnessed in such attractiveness among controversial writers, 
of courteous respect for their persons, and firm yet mild opposition to their 
errors. He was a man of extensive erudition, patient in his inquiries, and 
careful to examine a question in all its phases ; and he hence felt pity rather 
than petulance for men of mistaken views, aware of the false media through 
which they gazed, — and was at once uncompromising and moderate in pro- 
pounding disputed truth, experiencing the force of the wide range of evidence 
in its favour, and, at the same time, averse to expose it to the cavils of the pre- 
judiced and ignorant. Altogether, he was a man well-qualified for the solemnly 
responsible labours which occupied the greater part of his public life, and will 
probably, in his Body of Divinity, continue to be read with undiminished in- 
terest when the more rhetorical writers of a later period shall have been for- 
gotten. " The nominal, as well as intrinsic, value of Dr. Ridgeley's work," says 
the excellent author of the History of the Dissenting Churches, " is far from being 
depreciated by the injuries of time. His method of reasoning he has adapted 
to the capacities of those who are unacquainted with the abstruse terms made 
use of by metaphysicians and schoolmen, and when introduced into subjects of 
theology, have a tendency rather to perplex than to improve the mind. His 
scheme of divinity is evidently Calvinistic ; but, then, he has explained his sub- 
jects with so much moderation and latitude, as to obviate many of the objec- 
tions raised against the system of doctrines that passes under that name. Upon 
the whole, it is probable that the English language does not furnish a work of 
this nature that, for perspicuity of language, extent of research, accuracy of 
judgment, and judicious description of the numerous subjects that fall under 
examination, any way equals this work of Dr. Ridgeley." " The character of 
Dr. Ridgeley, and his ability for the different stations assigned him by provi- 
dence, were highly appreciated by his contemporaries, and may be gathered 
partly from his writings. He was a man of extensive and sound learriing, of 
remarkable diligence, and a strict economist of his time. His skilful know- 
ledge of the learned languages, large acquaintance with ancient and modern 
writers, and critical knowledge of the sacred writings, rendered him well quali- 
fied for theological controversy ; and he was accounted one of the most consi- 
derable divines of his age."* 

Dr. Ridgeley died on the 27th of March, 1734, in the sixty-seventh year of 
his age. He continued till the end of his life to fill the pastoral ofiice at the 
Three Cranes. His mortal remains ^•ere probably interred in the burying- 
ground at Bunhill. In addition to the works already mentioned, Dr. Ridge- 
ley published " A Sermon on the death of Mr. Thomas Tongey, preached at 
Fetter-lane, November 9th, 1729 ;" " A Funeral Sermon for the Rev. John 
Hurrion, who died December 31st, 1731 ;" and " A Sermon on the death of 
the Rev. John Sladen, preached at Horsley-down, October 28th, 1733." 

• The History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches and Meetirjg-houses in London. West- 
minster, and Southwark, including the Lives of their Ministers fiom the Rise of Nonconformity 
to the present Time, by Walter Wilson of the Inner Temple. London : 1808. Four Vols. 8vo. 
Vol. IL pp. 75 — 78. To this work — after making an almost fruitless search elsewhere for published 
materials, and entirely vain inquiries for manuscript or traditionary information,— we are maiuly 
indebted for the facts of the present biographical sketch. 





Before we enter on our present undertaking, we shall premise a few things leading 
to the general subject of it. And that we may begin with what is most obvious, 
let it be considered, 

1. That it is a duty incumbent on aU who profess the Christian name, to be well 
acquainted with those great doctrines on which our faith, hope, and worship are 
founded ; for, without the knowledge of these, we must necessarily be at a loss as 
to the way of salvation, which none has a right to prescribe but He who is its 

2. This knowledge of divine truth must be derived from the holy scriptures ; 
which are the only fountain of spiritual wisdom, whereby we are instructed in those 
things that could have been known in no other way but by divine revelation. 

3. It will be of singular use for us not only to know the doctrines which are 
contained in scripture, but to observe their connection and dependence on one 
another, and to digest them into such a method that subsequent truths may give 
light to those which went before ; or to lay them down in such a way that the 
whole scheme of religion may be comprised in a narrow compass, and, as it were, 
beheld with one view. This method wiU be a very great help to memory ; and is 
what we call a system of divine truths, or a methodical collection of the chief 
articles of our religion, adapted to the capacity of those who need to be taught ' the 
first principles of the oracles of God.' When the design of this is to give the world 
a specimen of that ' form of sound words ' which the church thinks itself obliged 
to ' hold fast, ' and steadfastly to adhere to, we call it a confession of faith ; and 
when digested into questions and answers, we call it a catechism. And though 
systems of divinity, confessions of faith, and catechisms are treated with con- 
tempt, instead of better arguments, by many who are no friends to the doctrines 
contained in them, and who appear to be partial in their resentment, inasmuch 
as they do not dislike those compositions which, by whatever name they are called, 
are agreeable to their own sentiments ; yet we are bound to conclude that the 
labour, in what form soever it has been, of those who have been happy in the sense 
they have given of scripture, and in the method in which they have explained its 
doctrines, is a great blessing to us. At the same time, we are far from concluding 
that even the best composition is of equal authority with scripture, or that every 
word contained in it is infallible ; nor do we regard it any further than as it is 
agreeable to, or sufficiently proved from, scripture. 

4. Confessions of faith, and catechisms are not to be reckoned a novel invention, 
or not consonant to the scripture rule ; since they are nothing else but a peculiar 
way of preaching or of instructing us in divine truths. And since scripture lays 
down no certain invariable rule concerning them, the same command wliich war- 


rants preaching the word in any method, includes the explaining of it, as occasion 
serves, in a catechistical one. [See Note A below.] 

5. As there are many excellent bodies of divinity printed in our own and foreign 
languages, and collections of sermons on the principal doctrines of religion, so 
there are various catechisms, or methodical summaries of divine truths, which, 
when consonant to scripture, are of great advantage to all Christians, whether 
elder or younger. 

6. The catechisms composed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, are 
esteemed as not inferior to any that are extant, either in our own or foreign lan- 
guages, the doctrines therein contained being of the highest importance, and con- 
sonDat to scripture. And the method in which they are laid down is so agreeable, 
that it may serve as a directory for ranging our ideas of the common heads of 
divinity in such an order that what occurs under each of them may be reduced to its 
proper place. [See Note B, p. 3.] It is the larger of them that we have attempted to 
explain and regulate our method by ; because it contains several heads of divinity, 
not touched on in the shorter. And if, in any particular instance, we are obliged 
to recede from the common mode of speaking (though it is to be hoped, not from 
the common faith, once delivered to the saints), we submit our reasoning to the 
judgment of those who are disposed to pardon minor mistakes, and improve to the 
best purposes what comes with sufficient evidence. 

[NoTK A. The authority of creeds- The controversy respecting the lawfulness or scriptural propri- 
ety of confessions of (aith, has been much affected by looseness of definition. Dr. Ridgeley evidently 
contends that confessions are authoritative, — that ' though not infallible in every word,' they are, 
in some sense, a standard or test of the truth or falsehood of doctrines; and _\et he speaks of them 
as 'but a peculiar way of preaching, or of instructing us in divine truths,' and as 'designed to give 
the world a specimen of that form of sound words which the church thinks itself obliged to hold 
fast.' Now most of the opponents of confessions admit the propriety of a declaration, oral or ver- 
bal, of the articles of an individual's or a church's belief. They maintain that every Christian 
community ought to be one in faith, ami to possess confidence in one another's soundness of religious 
views. Though they have no authorized and invariable symbols, all the details as well as the 
leading doctrines of which are declared to be of essential importHuce, they all possess some definite 
outline of principles, which they exhibit to the world ' as a specimen' of what they believe, and 
emplpyias a test of eligibility to their fellowship. The question respecting confessions of faith, 
therefore, is not. Are they lawful? but, Are they simply declarations of what a church's belief is 
at the time when they are made ? or are they criteria of what is true and what is false, — authori- 
tative exhibitions of the sense ot the divine word, — exact definitions of truth, to be received by 
all, and modified by none. Viewed in the former light, they may be of various length and expressed 
in various words, and they amount to nothing more than the aggregate of individual or private be- 
lief; but viewed in the latter light, they are expressed in fixed terms, and enacted and maintained 
by ecclesiastical or civil authority. 

The earliest formal creed was framed, in the year 325, by the celebrated council of Nice. This 
was constructed with the view of condemning the doctrines and subtle devices of Arianism, and 
was occupied with minute, and, in some instances, unintelligible definitions of our Lord's true 
deity. In the form in which it has descended to modern times, it was completed, in the year 381, 
by the first great council ot Constantinople. At Nice, all those clauses of it were enacted which 
refer to Christ; and at Constantinople, that part of it was added which refers to the Holy Ghost. 
During the interval between its commencement and its completion, many formal creeds — all of 
which soon were lost, or fell into disuse — were enacted in favour respectively of orthodoxy, of 
Arianism, and of Semi-arianism, by the numerous councils which were convoked during the preva- 
lence of the Arian controversy. Several celebrated creeds, especially those called the Henocicon, 
the Ecthesis, and the Type, were enacted, in the fifth and sixth centuries, by the Roman emperors; 
these were all designed to terminate prevailing controversies, and produce uniformity in faith ; but 
they invariably created new disputes, and aggravated tiie evils which they were meant to remedy. A 
famous creed, usually knoun as the creed ot Pope Pius IV., and containing a summary of the modem 
doctrines of Romanism, was drawn up after tlie close of the council of Trent, and enacted by Papal 
aiithorit}. Creeds, beautifully harmonizing with one another in doctrine, and very remarkable tor 
their general orthodoxy, were framed by most of the Protestant churches immediately after the 
Reiorniation. These — amonyst the latest of which, as well as the most esteemed, was the West- 
minster confession ot faith — were enacted, and, for the most part, continue to be enforced, by the 
united autliority of church and state ; and though studiously constructed and professedly main- 
tained with a view to the conservation of truth, they have, in our apprehension, been attended, 
tliroughout the greater part of Protestant Europe, with an influence the very reverse of that eon- 
teiiipiated by their original framers. Some ecclesiastical bodies, indeed, either adopting creeds 
aheady framed, or constructing new ones of their own, maintain them only by the authority of 
church-courts, and regard them as subject to modification and amendment ; but even these allow 
no fuither scope to the assertion ot private judgment, than liberty, on the part of any minister or 
congregation, to solicit that the creeds may be reviewed. 


Except as verbal stafemerits of private belief, expressed in words and extending fo a Tenf^th en- 
tirely optional, creeds were imkiioun amniiir the [irimitive Chrisli:m-^. What is usually tiiint'd the 
Apostles' creed, was of slow and gradual formation; it did not assume a fixed forui till aliout tiia 
middle of t'ue fourth century; a!id, in all its parts, it is merely a harmony ot the verbal prolessioiia 
of faith which were made by the early disciples on occasion of their heinp; admitted to church- 
fellowship. The apostles and their coadjutors appear to have required from converts little more 
than a profession of belief that ' Jesus Christ is the Son of God,' — Acts viii. 37. 'J'he early churches, 
wherever Judaism and heathen idolatry were the only systems which opposed the truth, demanded 
an acknowledgment of simply the unity of God and the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus; and 
when they had to conflict with Cerinthianism, Basilidianism, Valentinianism, Sabellitiiiism, or other 
heresies, thev expected such statements as should repudiate the various forms of novel or prevail- 
ing error. Either through prevailing custom, or by request of the churches, the converts used 
great brevity of expression. Any thousand of them, though perfectly at liberty to employ what 
words they pleased, could hardly have failed to utter similar expressions, and arrange their ideas 
in similar order. When renouncing Judaism, they might all say, ' We believe that Jesus Christ is 
the Son of God ;' and when renouncing Gnosticism, they might all say, ' We believe that he was 
born of the Virgin Mary.' A fixed verbal creed, strongly resembling that called the Apostles', 
might thus have been framed by a sort of concurrent usage or general consent; and even had it 
existed at a comparatively early period, woulil have been no disproof that primitive confessions of 
faith were all optional and spontaneous. The immediate materials out of which the Apostles' 
creed was forme<i, were ten transcripts or reports of the consentaneous professions of the converts 
and the churches. Now the expressions employed, the arrangement of the clauses, the copiousness 
of statement, and the prominence given to respective doctrines, are all more various than might 
possibly have been expected. One of the ten transcripts is given by Ignatius, who wrote about 
the year 105 ; two by Irenseus, about the year 184 ; three by Tertullian, about the year 200; two 
by Origen, about the year 230; one by Gregory of Neo-Caesarca, about the year 250 ; and one by 
Cyprian, about the year 252. As the errors protested against were both more numerous and more 
subtle in the middle of the third century than in the days of Ignatius or of Irenaeus, we might have 
expected the later creeds to be all more copious than the earlier; \et that of Gregory is shorter 
than any of four of the eight earlier, and the latest, or that of Cyprian, is the shortest of the ten, 
and only one-eighth of the length of the first of Irenaeus. Though remarkable, too, for their 
doctrinal agreement, and though all existing in a harmony in the Apostles' creed, they are sur- 
prisingly various in their phraseology and in their omissions or expansions of articles. The church's 
public profession of faith — either "as a specimen of what she held fast,' or as a test of fitness tor 
admission to her fellowship — continued, till the civil establishing of Christianity, to be as strictly 
' unauthorized,' and was as unfixed in the number of its articles, and allowed as free an option in 
the selection of words, as during the personal ministry of the apostles. 

This glance at the history of creeds may afford instruction as to the light in which they ought 
to be regarded, and will evince the necessity of defining accurately in what sense they are advo- 
cated or opposed. If considered as optional expressions of private belief, they will be regarded by 
almost all Christians as ' but a peculiar way of preaching or of instructing us in divine truths;' if 
considered as fixed formulae, from the dicta of which private judgment has no redress but t)y suc- 
cessful petition to a?i ecclesiastical judicatory, they will probably be rejected by all who 'call no 
man on earth master,' and who breathe the-spirit of the noble Bereans ; ajid if considered as stand- 
ards of national orthodoxy, enacted by civil authority and maintained under the sanction of the civil 
power, they will be condemned by all w ho view the kingdom ot Christ as spiritual, and the interfer- 
ence of the civil magistrate with religious matters as antichristian and corrupting — Ed.] 

[NoTK B. The Assembly's catechisms. — The catechisms of the Westminster divmes, 'are certainly,' 
as Dr. Ridgeley remarks, 'not inferior to any that are extant, either in our own or foreign lan- 
guages.' They contain luminous digests of ' doctrines of the highest importance ;' they are ad- 
mirably constructed as to methodical arrangement ; and they constitute altogether a fine specimen 
of theological skill and prowess. But excellent as they are, they must not be pronounced fauUless. 
They were framed amid the bustle of political contention, by men who had not entirely emerged 
fiom the mist of the scholastic theology ; and are marked with blemishes which in<licate the absence 
of matured reflection, and the influence of prejudices derived from the dark ages. They are occa- 
sionally redundant or defective, — inaccurate in statement or censurable in phraseology. For ex- 
ample, they nowhere so state the important doctrine of regeneration as to bring it fairly beiore the 
mimi of a reader; and, at the same time, they hint it both under the question of 'effectual calling,' 
and under that of 'repentance.' Again, they identify 'the work of creation' with 'the space of 
six days,' — excluding both the piistine creation of chaos, and the constant creation of human souls; 
and they speak of the benefits of redemptioti as 'purchased,' — overlooking both the spontaneity or 
unpurchaseableness of the divine mercy, and the uniform scriptural assertion that what Christ pur- 
chased was * his church,' ' his people,' the souls and bodies ot the saved. Such blemishes as these, 
indeed, when compared with the excellencies which surround them, are but like the spots on the 
disc of the sun ; but they mark the catechisms as human and fallible compositions, and ought to 
moderate the unqualified and blindfold admiration in which they are extensively held. Persons 
who have been used to follow wherever ecclesiastical standards lead, would (lo well, even when 
the beautiful and generally accur.ite catechisms of Westminster are before iliem, to listen lo the 
heavenly oracle : ' To the law and to the testimony ; if they speak not a^-c or..iiig lo this woril, U 
IS because there is no light in them.'— Ed.] 



Qdestion I. What is the chief and highest end of man ? 

Answer. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him for ever. 

Mans chief End. 

It is supposed, in this answer, that every intelligent creature, acting as such, 
designs some end, which excites endeavours to attain it. The ends for which we 
act, if warrantable, may be considered as to their degree of excellency, and, in 
proportion to this, are to be pursued by proper means conducing to the attainment 
of them. There is one end that may be termed the chief and highest, as having 
an excellency above all others, and a supreme tendency to make us blessed : this 
is composed of two parts, and consists, as is observed in this answer, in the glorify- 
ing and the eternal enjoying of God, the fountain of blessedness. If it be inquired 
with what propriety both these may be called chief and highest, the answer is ob- 
vious and easy : The former, or the glorifying of God, is absolutely the chief and 
highest end ; for nothing more excellent or desirable than it can be conceived ; 
while the latter, or the enjoying of God, is the highest or best in its kind, and is, 
at the same time, a means leading to the other. And both these ends, which, with 
this distinction, we call chief and highest, are to be particularly considered by us. 
together with the connection that there is between them. 

The glorifying of God, 

I. We are to consider what it is to glorify God. 

In order to our understanding this, let it be premised, 1. That there is a great 
difference between God's glorifying himself and our glorifying him. He glorifies 
himself, when he demonstrates or shows forth his glory ; we glorify him by ascrib- 
ing to him the glory that is his due,- — even as the sun discovers its brightness by 
its rays, and the eye beholds it. God glorifies himself by furnishing us with mat- 
ter for praise ; we glorify him when we oft'er praise, or give unto him the glory 
due to his name. 2. Creatures are said to glorify God in various ways. Some 
things do it only objectively ; as by them, ang'els and men are led to glorify him. 
Thus, 'the heavens declare his glory. ''^ The same might be said of all other in- 
animate creatures which glorify God, by answering the end of their creation, 
though they know it not. Intelligent creatures, on the other hand, and particu- 
larly men, are said to glorify God actively. This they do by admiring and ador- 
ing his divine perfections. These, as incomprehensible, are the object of admira- 
tion ; and as divine, are the object of adoration. The apostle, accordingly, ad- 
mires the divine wisdom : ' the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and 
knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding 
outl'^ God is to be admired in all the displays of his relative or manifestative 
glory; and 'his work, which men behold,' is to be 'magnified.''' He is to be 
adored more especially for his essential perfections. 

We are to glorify God, by recommending, proclaiming, and setting forth his 
excellency to others. What we have the highest value for, we desire to see re- 
garded by others in the same way as by ourselves. Thus, as is narrated by the 
evangelist, when the disciples received their first conviction that Jesus was the 
Messiah, they communicated it to others, — as Andrew to Peter, and Philip to 
Nathanael i^ and when the woman of Samaria received the same conviction, she 
endeavoured to persuade all her neighbours to believe in Christ, as she did.'^ Thus 
we glorify God by making mention of his name with reverence, proclaiming his 
goodness with thankfulness, and inviting others, as the Psalmist does, to ' tast(> 
and see that he is good.'^ 

a Psal. xix. 1. b Rom. xi. 33. c Job xxxvi. 24. d John i. 41, 45. 

e John iv. 28, 29. f Psal. xxxiv. 8. 


But since this is a very comprehensive duty, including in it the whole of prac- 
tical religion, it may be considered under the following particulars. 

1. We glorify God by confessing all the sins we have committed, and taking 
shame to ourselves on account of them. This is interpretatively to acknowledge 
the holiness of his nature, and of his law, which the apostle asserts to be ' holy, 
just, and good.'s Thus Joshua advises Achan ' to give glory to God, by making 
confession to him ;''* and thus the penitent thief, who was crucified with our Sa- 
viour, glorified God, by confessing that he received the ' due reward of his deeds.'' 
So did the Levites, in their prayer recorded by Nehemiah, when they said to God, 
' Thou art just in all that is brought upon us, for thou hast done right, but we 
have done wickedly.'^ 

2. By loving and delighting in him above all things. This is to act as those 
who own the transcendent amiableness of his perfection, as the object of their high- 
est esteem. Thus the Psalmist says, ' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and 
there is none,' or nothing, ' upon earth, that I desire besides thee !'^ 

3. By believing and trusting in him, — committing all our concerns, both in life 
and in death, for time and for eternity, into his hands. Thus Abraham is said to 
have been ' strong in faith, giving glory to God ;'"' and the apostle Paul, to have 
'committed his aU to him.''' 

4. By a fervent zeal for his honour ; — and that either for the honour of his truth 
and gospel, when denied, disbelieved, or perverted ; or for the honour of his holi- 
ness, or of any of his other perfections, when reflected on or reproaphed, by the 
tongues or the actions of those who set themselves against him. 

5. By improving our talents, and bringing forth fruit in proportion to the means 
we enjoy. ' Herein,' says our Saviour, * is my Father glorified, that ye bear much 
fruit. '° 

6. By walking humbly, thankfully, and cheerfully before God. Humility ac- 
knowledges that infinite distance which is between hnn and us ; retains a due sense 
of our own unworthiness of all we have or hope lor ; and owns every thing we re- 
ceive to be the gift of grace : ' By the grace of God,' says the apostle, ' I am what 
I am.'P Thankfulness gives him the glory, as the author of every mercy ; and 
accordingly sets a due value on it, in that respect. And to walk cheerfully before 
him is to show that we do not repent having engaged in his service, and to recom 
mend it as most agreeable : this is what the Psalmist intends, when he says, 
' Serve the Lord with gladness. 'i 

7. By heavenly-mindedness, or cherishing a desire to be with him, to behold 
his glory. 

In the ways which have been specified, we glorify God by yielding obedience to 
his commanding will ; and we must, in all of them, do this in the name of Christ, 
our great Mediator, and by strength derived from him. But we must further glo- 
rify God, 

8. By yielding an entire submission to his disposing will. In particular, wo 
must, when under afflictive dispensations of providence, own that he has a sove- 
reign right to ' do what he will with us, as his own,'*" and that these afflictions are 
infinitely 'less than our iniquities deserve.'^ And we must adore his wisdom and 
goodness in trying our graces by them, and dealing with us in such a way as is 
' needful,' and that only ' for a season.'* And we are to own his goodness in suit- 
ing our strength to our burdens, and overruling all events for our spiritual advan- 
tage. Submission consists also in an easy, patient, and contented Irame of spirit, 
without the least murmuring or repining, concluding that whatever he does is 'well 
done ;'" and, which is something more, in rejoicing that we are counted worthy to 
suffer the loss of all things, yea, even of life itself, if called to do so, for his sake ; 
— of which we have various instances in scripture.^ 

Moi-eover, we ought to glorify God in the natural, civil, and religious actions of 
life, all of which are to be consecrated or devoted to him. We enjoy the blessmgs 

g Rom. vii. 12. h Josh. vii. 19. i Luke xxiii. ■40, 41. k Neh. ix. 33. 

1 Ps. Ixxiii. 25. Ill Rom. iv. 20. n 2 Tiin. i. 12. o John xv. S. 

p 1 Cor. XV. 10. q Ps. c. 2. r Matt. xx. 15. s Ezra ix. 13. 

t 1 Pet. i. 6. u Ps. cxix. 65. x Acts v. 41 ; Htb. x. 34; Acts xx. 24. 


of life to no purpose, if we do not live to the Lord, and thankfully acknowledge 
that we receive them all from his hand. And whatever the calling be wherewith 
we are called, we must therein abide with him, and see that we have his warrant 
to engage in it ; and we must expect success from his blessing upon it, else our 
exertions in it will be to no purpose. Thus says Moses, ' It is the Lord thy God 
that giveth thee power to get wealth. '^ And, in all our dealings with men, we 
are to consider ourselves as under the inspection of the all-seeing eye of God, to 
whom we are accountable for all we do ; and should be induced hereby, to exercise 
ourselves always to keep 'consciences void of offence towards God and man,' 

As for religious duties — wherein we have to do more immediately with God — we 
are to glorify him, by taking up a profession of religion in general, as being influ- 
enced by his authority, encouraged by his promised assistance, and approving our- 
selves to him as the searcher of hearts. We must take heed that we do not rest 
in an outward form or show of godliness, without the power thereof; or in having 
a name to live, without possessing a principle of spiritual life by which we may be 
enabled to perform living and spiritual actions corresponding to our profession. 
And all religious duties must be performed by faith ; whereby we depend on Christ, 
our great Mediator, for both assistance and acceptance, and thus glorify him as 
the fountain of all grace, in whom alone both our persons and our services are ac^ 
cepted in the sight of God, and become subservient to his glory. We must act 
thus at all times ; so that though our thoughts may not be directly conversant about 
any of the divine perfections — as often happens when we are engaged in some of 
the more minute or indifferent actions of life — we may yet glorify him habitually, 
by having our hearts right with him, and whatever we do, may refer it ultimately 
to his glory. As every step the traveller takes is towards his journey's end, though 
this may not be every moment in his thoughts, so the less important actions of life 
should be subservient to those w^iich are of greater consequence, and in which the 
honour of God and religion is most intimately concerned. In this manner we may 
be said to glorify him in all our conduct. 

Having thus considered, that it is our indispensable duty to make the glory of 
God our highest end in all our actions, we might add, as a motive to enforce this 
duty, that God is the first (Tause of all things, and that his own glory was the end 
he designed in all his works, whether of creation or of providence. It is certain, 
that the glory of God is the most excellent end we can propose to ourselves ; therefore 
the most valuable actions of life ought to be referred to it, and our hearts most set 
upon it. If otherwise, we act below the dignity of our nature ; and, while other 
creatures, designed only to glorify him objectively, answer the end for which they 
were made, we, by denying him that tribute of praise which is due from us, abuse 
our superior faculties, and live in vain. 

The enjoying of God. 

II. The next thing to be considered is what it is to enjoy God. 

1. This supposes a propriety in him, or claim to him, as our God. We cannot 
be said to enjoy that which we have no right or claim to, as one man cannot be said 
to enjoy an estate which belongs to another. So God must be our God in covenant, 
or we cannot enjoy him ; — and that he is so, with respect to all that fear him, is 
evident, inasmuch as he gives them leave to say, ' This God is our God,'^ and, ' God, 
even our own God, shall bless us.'^ 

2. To enjoy God, is to have a special gracious communion with him, to converse 
or walk with him, and to delight in him, as wlaen we can say, ' Truly our fellow- 
ship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'^ 1. This enjoyment of 
God, or communion with him, is such as we are blessed with in the present world. 
This is but imperfect ; as we know and love him but in part. Our communion with 
him here is often interrupted and weakened, through the prevalency of indwelling 
sin ; and the joy and delight which arise from it are often clouded and sullied. And 
we enjoy him here in at best but a mediate way, in and under his ordinances, as 

y Deut. viii. 18. z Psal. xlviii. 14. a Psal. Ixvii. 6. b 1 JoLn i. 3. 


agreeable to the present state. 2. Believers shall enjoy him perfectly and imme- 
diately in heaven, without intermission or abatement, and that for ever. This is 
called ' seeing him as he is ;' <= and ' being with him where he is, to behold his glory,''* 
In order to tit them for it, their souls shall be made capable of receiving it, by the 
removal not only of all sinful but of all natural imperfections, and shall be more 
enlarged, as well as have brighter discoveries of the divine glory. They shall also 
have a perfect freedom not only from all temptations to sin, but from all the con- 
sequences of it — such as sorrow, divine desertion, [See Note C, page 8,] and the 
many evils that attend us in the present life. Thus their happiness shall be so 
confirmed and secured to them, that it shall be impossible for them to be dispos- 
sessed of it. This is certainly the most desirable end, next to the glory of God, 
that can be intended or pursued by us. 

The connection letween the glorifying and the enjoying of God. 

III. This leads us to consider the connection that there is between our glorify- 
ing God and our enjoying him. 

God has joined these two together, so that one shall not be attained without the 
other. It is the highest presumption to expect to be made happy with him for ever 
without living to his glory here ; for inasmuch as heaven is a state of perfect 
blessedness, they who shall hereafter be possessed of it, must be trained up, or made 
meet for it, by a right use of all the means of grace. How preposterous would it 
be to suppose, that they who have no regard to the honour of God here, shall be 
crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in his presence 
hereafter? A life of holiness is absolutely necessary to the heavenly blessedness. 
And since these two are so connected together, they who experience the one shall 
not fail of the other : for they have a security for both in the faithfulness of God, 
who has promised to ' give grace and glory, ' ® Therefore ' he who begins a good work 
in them, will perform it,'^ and wiU give them 'the end of their faith, even the salva- 
tion of their souls. '^ 

From the connection that there is between our glorifying and our enjoying God. 
we may infer that it is a very preposterous thing for any one to assign as a mark 
of grace, that pei'sons must be content to perish eternally, that God may be glori- 
fied. It is alleged indeed, in favour of this supposition, that Moses and the apostle 
Paul seem to give countenance to it ; the one by saying, ' If thou wilt forgive their 
sin, — and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written ;'^the 
other, • I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren and 
kinsmen according to the flesh.'' But Moses, in desiring to be blotted out of the 
book which God had written, must not be supposed to be willing to perish eternally 
for Israel's sake ; he is content simply to be blotted out of the book of the living, 
or to have his name no more remembered on earth ; he seems to decline the honour 
which God had oifered him, when he said, ' Let me alone, that I may consume them ; 
and I will make of thee a great nation ;'^ he desires not the advancement of his own 
family, if Israel must cease to be a people, to whom God had promised to be a God. 
As for the apostle Paul's wish, it is either, as some suppose, a rash and inconsid- 
erate flight of zeal for God, and so not warrantable, though in some respects pro- 
ceeding from a good principle ; or rather, as I humbly conceive, he could wish him- 
self accursed from Christ so far as is consistent with his love, or he is content to 
be under the eternal marks of God's displeasure, or deprived of the comfortable 
sensation of his love, or of many of those fruits and eliects of it which the be- 
liever enjoys in this life. I cannot, in the least, think that he desires to be deprived 
of a real interest in the love of God, or on any condition whatever to be eter- 
nally separated from Christ. [See Note D, page 8.] 

Since the etei-nal enjoyment of God is one great end which we ought to have in 
view, it is no sign of a mercenary spirit to have an eye to the heavenly glory tliat 
we may be enlivened to duty. ' Thou shalt guide me, ' said Asaph, ' with thy counsel, 

c 1 John iii, 2. d Jolin xvii. 24. e Psal. Ixxxvi, 11. f Phil. i. 6. 

R 1 Pet. i. 9. b Exod. xxxii, 32, i Rom, ix. 3. k Exod. xxxii. 10 


•aud afterward receive me to glory.'' Promises occur in many scriptures, wliicliare 
designed to excite our desire and hope of heavenly blessedness ; therefore the ex- 
ercise of Christian graces, from these motives, is far from being unlawful, — yea, 
it is commended in the saints, who are said to ' desire a better country, that is, au 
heavenly. ' ™ And Moses is commended for having ' the recompense of reward ' in view, 
when he preferred the 'reproach of Christ* before the 'treasui'es of Egypt. '° When 
however this respect to future blessedness is warrantable, it must be considered as 
an incitement to our glorifying God, by means of our beholding his glory ; and 
when we consider it as a reward, we must not look upon it as what is merited by 
our service, or conferred in a way of debt, but as a reward of grace, given freely 
to us, though founded on the merits of Christ. 

1 Psalm Ixxiii. 24. m Heb. xi. 16. n Ver. 26. 

[Note C. Divine desertion Dr. Ridgeley evidently regards 'divine desertion ' as an evil incident, 

in the present life, to believers ; and he is joined in this opinion by many eminent theological writers. 
But is be correct? Does God ever desert, even for the shortest period, any of his believing 
people ? Does he ever ' hide his face,' or ' withdraw the light of his countenance,' from those who 
have been saved by grace, and are 'one spirit with the Lord?' At various times, indeed, and 
especially at the period of the captivity, he forfook his ancient people as their political protector, 
and hid his face from them as the Shechinah (Isa. liv. 7, 8.); and he has also withdrawn, under 
the new dispensation, from communities who professed to be his worshippers, and from places 
where the light of his favour had long shone. But as the God of the everlasting and well-ordered 
covenant, as the Father and portion of the redeemed, as the guardian and provider of Christ's 
spiritual body, as God who has justified and who will also glorify, who has begun a good work and 
will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus, he emphatically says to every believer, ' I will never, 
never leave thee ; I will not, no, I will not forsake thee,' — Heb. xiii. 5. The translation which I 
have given of this passage, is not only warranted but required by the emphatic repetition of nega- 
tives in the original : Ov fm ixi avu, evV ou //.ti rt lyxarccXiiru. Though he chastises his people for 
their sins, and contends with them for their backslidings ; yet he deals with them as with sons, and 
calls upon them to recognise the very siiflferings which they endure as evidences of his gracious 
presence and his love, — Heb. xii. 6 — 10. Rev. iii. 19. However numerous their transgressions, or 
however severe his displeasure, he never ceases to bless them with his grace. 'If,' says he, 'they 
forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments ; if they brenk my statutes, and keep not my com- 
mandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; 
nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to 
fail,' — Ps. Ixxxix. 30 — 33. Never, in connexion with the new covenant, was divine desertion en- 
dured, except by the Lord Jesus. He, indeed, when he bore our sins and suffered in our stead, 
had occasion to exclaim, ' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' But he so fully under- 
went it, — so amply achieved the purposes of its infliction, — so satisfactorily paid the penalty which 
it involved, that it will never be repeated, and can never be endured by any of his redeemed. If 
they walk in darkness, it is not because the light of God's face ceases to shine upon them, but be- 
cause they shut their eyes from beholding it. He is 'near to them that call upon him,' and* walks 
and dwells in his people.' Not only are his presence with them and his favour abiding, but their 
very 'life is hid with Christ in God.' — Ed.] 

[Note D. Paul's wishing himself ' accursed from Christ.' — Paul wrote under divine inspiration. 
How, then, could his words express 'a rash and inconsiderate flight of zeal for God?' Dr. Ridgeley 
does not seem quite to relish this view of his wish; yet he substitutes another which is scarcely less 
exceptionable. Paul said, ' Yea, doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the 
knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord.' How, then, could he ' be content to be deprived of the com- 
fortable sensation of his love, or of many of those fruits and effects of it which the believer enjoys 
in the present life ?' Could he have gone thus far, he was in the very frame of mind, aiul needed to 
take but another step, to be willing to undergo the miseries of perdition. To want a sense of the 
divine love, is to want the chief element of spiritual life, and the grand motive to Christian obe- 
dience ; and to be willing to endure that want, would argue an indifference as to both the per- 
manency of the divine favour, and the acceleration of personal holiness, which is utterly inconsistent 
with the Christian character. 

Paul's wish is sufficiently obvious, if we translate his words thus: 'I could wish that myself 
vvere anathema, after the manner of Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh.' 
The word ' anathema,' among both the Jews and the Greeks, denoted a person who was devoted to 
destruction for the public safety, or one who was cut off from society and subjected to an ignominious 
death for the removal of a calamity. When a pestilence broke out, or any public distress occurred, 
one of the lowest or most execrable of the people was selected by authority, pronounced a vile 
thing, and doomed to a violent death. Among Greeks, Romans, and Jews, every such person, a« 
well as every one who, like Achan, deserved to be sacrificed for tiie public good, was called ana- 
thema. Now Paul was willing to be esteemed such — he was willing to be treated as a malefactor, 
contemned as a despicable being, and led forth to ignominious execution — 'after the manner of 
Christ.' As • anathema,' he could not be counted vile, or put to death, forth from or away from 
any one, but by son.e person or after his example. A few codices of the Greek text read ' bij 
Christ ;' but are not of sufficient number and authority to affect the received reading. The plirn.-.e 
a>cii}ifiK «aro rau X^ifrtu may fairly be translated ' anathema after the manner of Christ.' Both «<rt 


in Greek and 'from' in English, as well as the eoriesponding preposition in other lanjjuages, ex- 
press as truly the relation of receiving impression, as that o( receding or of heing repelleii. One 
object mav he from another, in the sense of egression, a second in the sensr of repulsion, a third in 
the sense of iiupression or imitation. To say, ' I "ish 1 could paint trom Titian,' is as coireet as 
to say, 'I wish I were separated from my companions.' In the latter phrase, * (roiii' has tlie sense 
of ' forth from ' or ' away from ;' and in the former, it means ' after the manner of.' Now a [)erso!i 
who was 'anathema' might he in imitation or according to the example of another; hut he could 
he ' forth from' or * away from' only the community, who repelled him from their society, and on 
whose account he was devoted to ignominy and death. Paul ' wished to be anathema after the 
manner of Christ.' He was willing, in imitation of his blessed Lord, to be counted a vile thing, 
and, for the sake of his brethren's good, set apart to ignominious sufferings and destruction. 
•Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us ; and «e ought to lay 
down our lives tor the brethren,' — 1 John iii. 16. Christ, when professedly setting an example to 
his disciples, had said, ' Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his 
friends.' John xv. 13. ; and now the apostle, takiiig up the lesson which his Master taught, and 
breathing the spirit which he exemplifrid, says, ' I say the truth in Christ, 1 lie not, my conscience 
also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow iurav 
heart, for I could wish that myself were anathema after the manner of Christ, for my brethren, my 
kinsmen according to the flesh.' 'Behold, I go bound in the spirit utito Jeiusalem, not knowing 
the things which shall befall me there: save that the Holy Gliost witnesseth in every city, saying 
that bonds and afflictions abide me ; but none of these things move me, neither count I my life 
dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received 
of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God,' — Acts xx. 22 — "24 Ed.] 


QPESTION II. How doth it appear that there is a Godf 

Answer. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare that there is a God; 
hut his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation. 

Wht/ proofs of the being of God should he studied. 

Before we enter on the proof of this important doctrine, let it be premised, that 
we ought to be able to prove by arguments, or giye a reason of our belief, that 
there is a God. For, 

1. This doctrine is the foundation of all natural and revealed religion. It, there- 
fore, must not be received merely by tradition, as though there were no other 
reason for our believing it than that others do so, or that we have been instructed 
in it from our childhood. To receive it in this manner is unbecoming the dignity and 
importance of the subject, and would display great stupidity ; especially as we have 
so full and demonstrative evidence in the whole frame of nature,- — in which there 
is nothing but what affords an argument to confirm our belief that there is a God. 

2. Tliere is a great deal of atheism in our hearts ; by reason of which we are 
prone sometimes to call in question the being, perfections, and providence of God. 
The devil also frequently injects atheistical thoughts into our minds ; which are a 
great affliction to us, and render it necessary that we should use aU possible means 
lor our being established in this great truth. 

3. The abounding of atheism in the world, and the boldness of many in advocating 
it, renders it necessary that we should be able to defend the doctrine of the divine 
existence, that we may stop the mouths of blasphemers, and so plead the cause of 
God, and assert his being and perfections against those that deny them. 

4. A firm belief in God's existence wiU greatly tend to establish our faith in those 
comfortable truths that arise from our interest in him ; and will give us a more solid 
foundation for our hope, as excited by his promises, which receive all their force and 
virtue from those perfections which are implied in the idea of a God. It will also 
make us set a due value on his works, in which we see a manifestation of his eter- 
nal power and Godhead, and are in consequence led to admire him. ' Remember 
that thou magnify his work, which men behold.'" 

Job XXX vi. 24. 


Proofs of the being of God. 

We shall now consider those arguments, mentioned in this answer, bj which the 
being of a God may be evinced ; as, 

I. The light of nature in man. Bj this we understand that reason which 
he- is endowed with ; whereby he is distinguished from, and rendered superior to, 
all other creatures in this lower world ; and whereby he is able to observe the con- 
nection of things, and their dependence on one another, and to infer those conse- 
quences which may be deduced from thence. The reasoning powers of man, in- 
deed, are very much sullied, depraved, and weakened, by our apostacy from God ; 
but they are not wholly obliterated ; for there are some remains of them, which 
are common to all nations, — whereby, without the help of special revelation, it 
may be known that there is a God. [See Note E, p. 20.] This respects either 
the principle of reasoning which we were born with, upon account of which infants 
are called intelligent creatures, or the exercise of it in a discursive way, in adults, 
who alone are capable to discewa the truth of God's existence ; and this they do more 
or less, in proportion to their natural capacity, as they make advances in the know- 
ledge of other things. 

Now for the proof of the being of a God from the light of nature, let the follow- 
ing propositions be considered in their respective order: 1. There hath been, for 
many ages past, a succession of creatures in the world. 2. These creatures could 
not make themselves ; for that which is nothing cannot act. If it make itself, it 
acts before it exists ; it acts as a creator be! ore it exists as a creature : and it must 
be, in the same respect, both a cause and an effect, or it must be, and not be, at 
the same time, — than which nothing can be more absurd. 3. These creatures could 
not make one another ; for to create something out of nothing, or out of matter 
altogether unfit to be made into what is produced out of it, is to act above the nat- 
ural powers of the creature, and contrary to the fixed laws of nature. Creation, 
therefore, is too great a work for a creature, who can do nothing but in a natural 
way ; just as an artificer, though he can build a house with fit materials, cannot 
make these materials out of nothing, or build the house with materials unfit for 
his purpose, as water, fire, air, &c. All creatures act within their own sphere, 
that is, in a natural way ; but creation is a supernatural work, and too great for a 
creature to perform ; therefore, creatures cannot be supposed to have made one an- 
other. 4. If it were supposed possible for one creature to make another, then 
superiors must have made inferiors ; and so man, or some other intelligent crea- 
ture, must have made the world. But where is the creature that ever pretended 
to such power or wisdom as to be called the ' Creator of the ends of the earth ? ' 
5. If any creature could make himself or other creatures of the same species, why did 
he not preserve himself? for he that can give being to himself, can certainly conti- 
nue himself in being ; — or why did he not make himself more perfect ? why did he 
make himself, and other creatures of the same species, in such a condition that 
they are always indigent, or stand in need of support from other creatures ? Or 
further, supposing the creature made himself, and all other things, how comes it 
to pass that no one knows much of himself comparatively, or of other things? Does 
not he that makes things understand them ? Man therefore could not make him- 
self, or other creatures. It follows from hence, that there must be a God, who is 
the first cause of all things, necessarily existing, and not depending on the will of 
another, and by whose power all things exist. ' Of him, and through him, and to 
him, are all things.' p ' In him we live, and move, and have our being.' i [See 
Note F, p. 23.] 

Thus much concerning the more general method of reasoning, whereby the light 
of nature evinces the being of a God. We proceed to consider more particularly, 

II. How the being of God may be proved from his works. The cause is known by 
its efl^ects ; since, therefore, as was but now observed, creatures could not produce 
themselves, they must have been created by one who is not a creature. Now if 

p Rom. xi. 36. q Acts xvii. 28. 


there be no medium between God and the creature, or between infinite and finite, 
between a self-existent or underived and a derived being ; and if all creatures ex- 
ist, as has been shown, by the will and power of their Creator, and so are finite and 
dependent ; then it follows, that there is one from whom they derived their being, 
and on whom they depend for all things, — and that is God. This is usually illus- 
trated by a similitude : Suppose we were cast on an unknown island, and there 
saw houses built but no men to inhabit them, should we not conclude there had 
been some there that built them? Could the stones and timber put themselves in- 
to the form in which they are ? Or could the beasts of the field, that are without 
understanding, build them ? Or when we see a curious piece of workmanship, as a 
watch or a clock, perform all its motions in a regular way, can we think that the 
wheels came together by chance ? or should we not conclude that it was made by 
one of sufficient skill to frame them and put them together in order, and give mo- 
tion to them? * Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it, What makest thou? 
or thy work. He hath no hands ? '"■ 

This leads us to consider the wisdom of God as apparent in his works, and as de- 
monstrating his being. This the Psalmist mentions with admiration : ' Lord, how 
manifold are thy works I in wisdom hast thou made them all.'^ When we see letters 
put together, which make words or sentences containing the greatest sense, and the 
ideas expressed by them joined together in the most beautiful order, should we not 
conclude that some man, equal to the work, had put them together ? Even so the wis- 
dom that shines forth in all the parts of the creation, proves that there is a God. 
This appears in the exact harmony and subserviency of one part of the creation to 
another. ' 1 will hear, saith the Lord ; I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear 
the earth ; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil ; and they 
shall hear Jezreel.'* One part of this frame of nature ministers to another. Thus 
the sun and other heavenly bodies, give light to the world, — which would be no better 
than a cave or dungeon without them ; and afibrd life and influence to plants and trees ; 
and maintain the life of all living creatures. The clouds send down rain that mois- 
tens the earth, and makes it fruitful ; and this is not perpetual, so as to destroy it ; 
nor is it poured forth by whole oceans together, but by small drops. ' He maketh 
small the drops of water; they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof.'" 
The moist places of the earth, and the sea, supply the clouds with water, that they 
may have a sufficient store of rain. The air fans and refreshes the earth, and is 
necessary for the growth of all things, and for maintaining the life and health of 
the earth's inhabitants. This subserviency of one thing to another is without their 
own design or contrivance, — for they are not endowed with understanding or will ; 
neither doth it depend on the will of the creature. The sun doth not enlighten or 
give warmth to the world, or the clouds or air refresh the earth, at our pleasure ; 
and therefore they are all subject to the order and direction of one who is the God 
of nature, who commands the sun, and it shineth, and the clouds to give rain at 
his pleasure. It is he who gave their regular motion to the heavenly bodies, and 
who, by his wisdom, fixed and continues the various seasons of the year, summer 
and winter, seed-time and harvest, day and night, and every thing that tends to 
the beauty and harmony of nature. Hence these curious and never-enough-to-be- 
admired works, plainly declare that there is a God. This is described with unpar- 
alleled elegance of style : ' Out of the south cometh the whirlwind ; and cold out 
of the north. By the breath of God, frost is given ; and the breadth of the waters 
is straitened. Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud ; he scattereth his 
bright cloud. Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works 
of him which is perfect in knowledge ? how thy garments are warm, when he 
quieteth the earth by the south-wind ? '^ 

But that we may further evince the truth of the divine existence, we shall proA'e 
it by a series of arguments. And 

I. The being of God appears from the constitution or condition of those creatures 
that are endowed with a lower kind of life than man. 

1. No creature can produce a fly or even the smallest insect, but according to the 

r Isa. xlv. 9. s Psal. civ. 24. t IIos. ii. 21, 22. u Job .\xxvi. -27. x Job xxxvii. 9, &c. 


fixed laws of nature ; and that .which Ave call life, or the principle of their respective 
motion and actions, none but a God can give. His being, therefore, is plainly 
proved, from all living creatures below man, which are subservient, many of them, 
to one another, and all to man, and that not by our ordering, but by God's. 

2. The natural instinct of living creatures by which every one acts according to 
its kind, and some of the smallest produce things that no human art can imitate, 
plainly proves the being of a God. Thus the bird, in building its nest ; the spider, 
in framing its web ; the bee, in providing store-houses for its honey ; the ant, in 
making those provisions which it lays up in summer against winter ; the silk-worm 
in providing clothing for man, and in being transformed into various shapes ; and 
many others of the smaller sort of creatures, in their various wonderlul ways of 
acting without the exercise of reason or design, — all prove the being of God, 

3. The greater, fiercer, or more formidable sort of living creatures, as the lion, the 
tiger, and other beasts of prey, are so constituted, that they flee from man, whom 
they could easily devour, and avoid those cities and places which men inhabit, that 
so we may dwell safely. They are not chased into the woods by us ; but these are 
allotted, as the places of their residence, by the God of nature. 

4. Those living creatures that are most useful to man, and so subject to him, as 
the horse, the camel, and many others, know not tlieir own strength or power, to 
resist or rebel against him. This is ordered by infinite wisdom. And there are 
many other instances of a like nature, all of which are very strong arguments to 
prove that there is a God, whose glory shines forth in all his works. 

II. The being of God appears from the structure of human bodies, in regard to 
which we are said to be ' fearfully and wonderfully made ;' and which, if it be ab- 
stractly considered, without regard to the fixed course and laws of nature, exceeds 
the power and skill of all creatures, and can be no other than the workmanship of 
a God, and therefore is a demonstration of his being and perfections. No man 
ever pretended to give a specimen of his skill in constructing a human body. The 
finest statuaries or limners, who have given pictures or representations of human 
bodies, have not pretended to give life or motion to them ; in this their skill is 
bafiled. The wisest men in the world have confessed their ignorance as to how 
human bodies are formed, — how they are framed in their first rudiments, pre- 
served and grow to perfection in the womb, — and how they are increased, nourished, 
and continued in their health, strength, and vigour, for many years. The struc- 
ture of the human frame has made the inquiries of the most thoughtful men 
issue in admiration ; and we may see plainly displayed in it the power and wis- 
dom of God. 

Here it may be observed, that there are several things very wonderful in the 
structure of human bodies, which farther evince this truth. As, 1. The organs of 
sense and speech. 2. The circulation of the blood, and the preservation of natural 
heat for many years together ; of which there is no instance but in living creatures. 
Even fire will consume and waste itself by degrees, and all things into which heat 
has only been diffused will soon grow cold ; but the natural lieat of the body of 
man is preserved in it as long as life is continued. 3. The continual supply of ani- 
mal spirits, and their subserviency to sense and motion. 4. The nerves ; which, 
though small as threads, and all tending to convey strength and motion to the body, 
remain unbroken. 5. The situation of the parts in their most proper place. The 
internal parts, which would be ruined and destroyed if exposed to the same injuries 
as the external ones, are secured in proper enclosures, and in consequence preserved. 
' Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sin- 
ews.'* 6. The disposal of the various parts of the body so as to be fitted for their 
respective uses ; all being situated in those places which are best adapted to the per- 
formance of their proper functions. 7. The diversity of features in human bodies ; 
which is so great that we can see scarcely two persons in all respects alike. It is 
wonderful, and is clearly the result of divine wisdom ; lor even this is necessary 
for society, and for our performing the duties which we owe to one another. 8. The 
union of the body with the soul, which is of a very difi'erent nature. This 

a Job X. II. 


union can never be sufficiently admired or accounted for ; but gives us occasion to 
own a superior, infinitely wise being. This leads us to observe that, 

III. The being of God appears from the nature of the soul of man. God is said 
to have ' formed the spirit of man within him.''' And hereby his power and 
wisdom, and consequently his being, are declared. For, 

1. The nature of a spiritual substance is much less known than that of bodies ; 
and that which we cannot fully understand, we must admire. If the wisdom and 
power of God is visible in the structure of our bodies, it is much more so in the 
formation of our souls ; and since we cannot fully describe what they are, and 
know little of them but by their effects, certainly we could not form them ; — and 
therefore there is a God, who is 'the Father of .spirits.' 

2. The powers and capacities of the soul are various, and very extensive. The soul 
can frame ideas of things superior to its own nature, and can employ itself in contem- 
plating and beholding the order, beauty, and connection of all those things in the 
world which are, as it were, a book, in which we mtiy read the divine perfections, 
and improve them to the best purposes. It takes in the vast compass of things 
past, which it can reflect on and remember with satisfaction or regret ; and it can 
look forward to things to come, which it can anticipate with pleasure or uneasiness. 
It can choose or embrace what is good, or flee from and reject what is evil and 
hurtful. It is capable of moral government, of conducting itself according to the 
principles of reason, and according to rules enjoined it for the attaining of the 
highest end. It is capable of religion ; and in consequence can argue that there 
is a God, and give him the gloi-y that is due to his name, and be happy in the en- 
joyment of him. It is immortal, and therefore cannot be destroyed by any crea- 
ture ; for none but God has an absolute sovereignty over the spirits of men. ' No 
man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit ; neither hath he power in the 
day of death.'"' 

IV. The being of God appears from the nature and office of conscience ; which is 
that whereby the soul takes a view of itself, and its own actions, as good or evil, 
and considers itself as under a law to a superior being, from whom it expects re- 
wards or punishments. This evidently proves that there is a God. For, 

1. Conscience is often distressed or comforted by its reflection on those actions 
which no man on earth can know. Now when it fears punishment for those crimes 
which come not under the cognizance of human laws, its uneasiness and its dread 
of punishment, plainly discover that it is apprehensive of a divine being, who has 
been offended, whose wrath and resentment it fears. All the endeavours that men 
can use to bribe, blind, or stupify their consciences are unavailing. The sad ap- 
prehension of deserved punishment, from one whom they conceive to know all 
things, even the most secret crimes, makes persons uneasy, whether they will or 
not. Whithersoever they flee, or what amusement soever they betake themselves 
to, conscience will still follow them with its accusations and its dread of the divine 
wrath. ' The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.'*^ ' A dreadful 
sound is in his ears ; in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.'** ' Terrors 
take hold of him as waters ; a tempest stealeth him away in the night ; the east 
wind carrieth him away, and he departeth, and, as a storm, hurleth him out of his 
place ; for God shall cast upon him, and not spare ; he would fain flee out of his 
hand. ' ^ ' The wicked flee when no man pursueth. ' & And this is universal. There 
are none who are not, some time or other, liable to fears arising from self-reflection, 
and the dictates of conscience. The most advanced circumstances in the world 
will not fortify against them or deliver from them. ' As Paul reasoned of righte- 
ousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.'^ Even Pharaoh 
himself, the most hard-hearted sinner in the world, who would gladly have forced 
a belief upon himself that tliere is no God, and boldly said, ' Who is the Lord, that 
I should obey him ?' even he could not ward oft" the conviction which his OAvn con- 
science suggested, that there is a God. Hence he was forced to say, ' I have sin- 
ned this time ; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.'' And 

b Zecli. xii. 1. c Ecc-les. viii. 8. d Isa. Ivii. 20. e Job xv. 21. 

f Job xxvii. 20 — 22. g Piov. xxviii. 1. h Acts xxiv. 25. i Exod. ix. 27. 


indeed all the pleasure that any can take in the world, who give themselves up to 
the most luxurious way of living, cannot prevent their trembling, when conscience 
suggests some things terrible to them for their sins. Thus respecting Belshazzar, 
when he had made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and when, in the midst 
of his jollity and drinking wine, he saw the finger of a man's hand upon the wall, it 
is said. ' The king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him ; so 
that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.'"* 
Thus there are dictates of conscience, which make men very uneasy, and which 
force wicked men to own that there is a God, whether they will or not. But, 

2. Good men have frequently such serenity of mind and peace of conscience, as 
affords them farther conviction that there is a God. This indeed is a privilege 
enjoyed by those who have the light of scripture-revelation, and so might have been 
considered under a following head ; yet in connection with the argument which has, 
been just stated, it may properly be introduced here as a proof of the being of a 
God. For, 1. This composure of mind abides under all the troubles and disappoint- 
ments which good men meet with in the world. Those things which tend to dis- 
turb the peace of other men, do not so much affect them. ' He shall not be afraid 
of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.'^ And as this peace 
abides under all the ti'oubles of life ; so it does not leave them, but is sometimes 
more abundant, when they draw nigh to death. 2. It is a regular and orderly peace, 
accompanied with grace ; so that conscience is most quiet when the soul is most 
holy. This shows that there is a hand of God in working or speaking this peace ; 
as designing thereby to encourage and own that grace which he has wrought in 
good men. Thus ' the God of hope' is said ' to fill us with all joy and peace in be- 
lieving. ' ™ 3. Though men labour ever so much after this peace, they can never attain 
it without a divine intimation, or God's speaking peace to their souls ; and when he is 
pleased, for wise ends, to withdraw from them, they are destitute of it. God, there- 
fore, is known by his works, or by those influences of his grace whereby he gives 
peace to the conscience. 

V. The being of God appears from those vast and boundless desires which are 
implanted in the soul. These are such that it can take up its rest, and meet with 
full satisfaction, in nothing short of a being of infinite perfection. There must, 
therefore, be such a being ; and he is God. This will further appear if we consider, 
that though the soul, at present, be entertained and meets with some satisfaction 
in creature-enjoyments, yet it still craves and desires more, of what kind soever 
they be ; and the reason is, that they are not commensurate to its desires. ' The 
eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. '" ' That which is want- 
ing cannot be numbered. 'o Now we cannot rationally suppose that such boundless 
desires should be implanted in the soul, while there is nothing sufficient to satisfy 

. them ; for then the most excellent creature in this lower world would be, in some 
respects, more miserable than creatures of a lower order, which obtain their 
ultimate desire. The Psalmist, speaking of the brute creatures, says, ' They are 
filled with good;'P that is, they have all that they crave. There must there- 
fore be a being who is infinitely good, and who can satisfy, in their utmost extent, 
the boundless desires of the human soul ; and that being is God, the fountain of 
all blessedness. 

VI. The being of God appears from the consent of all nations. That which all 
mankind agree in, must be founded in the nature of man ; and that which is found- 
ed in the nature of man, is evident from the light of nature. It is true, there are 
many who have, as the apostle says, thus 'known God, who have not worshipped 
and glorified him as God, but have been vain in their imaginations, and have 
changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more 
than the Creator. 'i But it does not follow, that the heathen, who were guilty of 
idolatry, had no notion of a God in general. The apostle's words seem to teach 
tliat tliere is something in the nature of men which suggests that they ought to 
worship some divine being, and that thoy did service to those who were by nature 

k Dan. v. G. 1 Psal. cxii. 7. m Rom. xv. 13. n E< cK s. i. 8. 

o Eccles. i. 15. j, Psal. civ. 28. q Rom. i. 21, 25. 


no Gods, because they could not, by the light of nature, sufficiently know the true> 
Deity. This pi'oves, however, that they were not wholly destitute of some ideas of 
a God ; which, therefore, are common to all mankind. Accordingly, all ancient 
history sufficiently discovers that men, in all ages, have owned and worshipped 
something that they called a God, though they knew not the true God. The Hea- 
thens themselves, also, as may easily be understood from their own writings, 
reckoned atheism a detestable crime, because contrary to the light of nature ; and 
some of them have asserted that there is no nation in the world so barbarous and 
void of reason, as to have no notion of a God. We may consider, likewise, that 
no changes in the world, or in the circumstances of men, no changes in the exter- 
nal modes of worship, or in those things which have been received by tradition, 
have, in any instance, erased or altered the conviction, that there is a God. The 
being of a God, therefore, may be proved by the consent of all nations. 

It is objected to this reasoning, that there have been some speculative atheists 
in the world. History, it is said, gives us an account of such persons, and informs 
us also, that there are some whole countries in Africa and America where there is 
no worship, and, as appears to us, no notion of a God. Now, though history does 
furnish us with instances of persons who have been deemed atheists, yet their num- 
ber has been very inconsiderable ; so that it will not follow, that the idea of a God 
is not, some way or other, impressed upon the heart of man. Might it not as 
well be said, that, because some children are born idiots, reason is not natural to 
man, or universal ? Besides, they who bear the character of atheists in ancient 
history, and such as, by their conversation, appear to be atheists in our day, are 
rather practical atheists than speculative. We do not deny, that, in all ages, 
many have asserted, and have pretended to prove, that there is no God ; but it is 
plain that they discover, at times, such fear and distress of conscience, as is suffi- 
cient to disprove what they pretend to defend by argument. As to the alleged fact 
that there are, in some parts of the world, people so stupid as not to own or worship 
a God, this is hard to be proved ; nor have any, who have asserted it, had such 
knowledge of their condition as to be able to determine what their sentiments about 
this matter are. But suppose the fact were true, nothing could be argued from it 
but that such nations are barbarous and brutish, — that though they have the princi- 
ple of reason, they do not act like reasonable creatures. It is sufficient for our pur- 
pose to assert, that all men who act like reasonable creatures, or who argue from 
those principles of reason which they are born with, may conclude that there is a 
God. It is further objected by atheists that the notion of the being of a God, or 
indeed all religion, took its rise from human policy ; that it was a device for re- 
straining the world from those irregularities which were inconsistent with the well- 
being of civil government ; and that it was readily received, and propagated by 
tradition, and so by an implicit faith transmitted from one generation to another 
among those who inquire not into the reason of what they believe, and was, at the 
same time, supported and enforced by the influence of fear. This, though much 
in the mouths of atheists, is a vile insinuation, without any shadow of reason, or 
show of proof ; and indeed it may be easily disproved. For, 1. If the notion of a 
God, and religion consequent upon it, were a contrivance of human policy, it must 
have been either the invention of one man, or the result of the contrivance of many 
convened together to impose on the world. If it was the invention of one man, 
who was he ? when and where did he live ? what history gives any account of him? 
or when was the world without all knowledge of a deity, and some religion, that 
we may know, at least, in what age the contriver of it flourished ? or could the 
contrivance of one man be so universally complied with, and yet none pretend to 
know who he was, or when he lived ? And if it was the contrivance of a number 
of men, how could they possibly have acted together, without their proceedings be- 
ing discovered ? or how could the princes of the earth, who must have been at the 
head of the contrivance, have mutual intelligence, or be convened together? By 
whose authority did they meet ? or what gave rise to their confederacy ? It is 
morally impossible that such a piece of state policy should have been made use of 
to deceive the world, and universally prevailed, and yet none in any age ever dis- 
covered the imposture. Besides, the princes and great men of the world, who had 


a hand in it, would certainly have exempted themselves from any obligation to own a 
God, or any form of worship, whereby they acknowledge him their superior : for im- 
postors generally design to beguile others, but to exempt themselves from what they 
bind them to. If any of the princes or great men of the world, had invented the 
opinion that there is a God, and that he is to be worshipped, their pride would have 
led them to persuade the world that they were gods themselves, and ought to be 
worshipped. They would never have included themselves in the obligation to own 
a subjection to God, if the notion of a God had, for political ends, been invented 
by them. How, too, if belief in the being of a God was invented by human policy, 
came it to be universally received by the world ? It is certain that it was not pro- 
pagated by persecution ; for though there has been persecution to enforce particulai 
modes of worship, yet there never was any to enforce the belief of a God. If, then, 
this belief was not propagated by force, or spread through the woidd by fraud, 
what are those arts which are pretended to have been used to propagate it ? It 
took its rise, say atheists, from human policy ; but the politicians are not known, 
nor the arts found out, which they used to persuade the world that there is a God. 
How unreasonable is the objection, or rather cavil, against a deity, that it was the 
result of human policy ! 2, The belief of a God was not propagated in the world 
merely by tradition, and so received by implicit faith. Notions that have been 
received with implicit faith by tradition, are not pretended to be proved by reason. 
But the belief of a God is founded on the highest reason, so that if no one in the 
world believed it besides myself, I am bound to believe it, or else must no longer 
lay claim to that reason which is natural to mankind, and should show myself 
rather a brute than a man. Schemes of religion, too, that were propagated mere- 
ly by tradition, have, in no instance, been universally received. But the belief of 
a God has universally prevailed. Moreover, if this belief was spread by tradition, 
why was not the mode of worship settled, that so there might be but one reli- 
gion in the world? The reason is, that the heathen received their respective 
modes of worship by tradition, which respects only particular nations, or a particu- 
lar set of men ; whereas the belief of a God is rooted in the nature of man. 
Whatever, besides, has been received only by tradition, has not continued in 
the world in all the turns, changes, and overthrow of particular nations that 
received it. But the belief of a God has continued in the world throughout 
all ages and changes ; and therefore is founded not in tradition, but in the light 
of nature. 3. The belief of a God could not take its rise merely from fear of 
punishment, which men expected would be inflicted by him ; though that is a 
strong argument to establish us in it. Liability to punishment for crimes com- 
mitted, supposes that there is a God, who is offended by sin, and from whom 
punishment is expected ; and as the effect cannot give being to the cause, so fear 
could not be the first ground and reason of the belief of a God. Moreover, the 
principal idea which men have of God, and that which is most natural to us, is 
that of an infinitely amiable object, — a being of infinite goodness : ' God is love ;'"■ 
and we conceive of him as the spring of all we enjoy and hope for. But as for 
fear, that is only what arises in the breasts of wicked men, and is founded in the 
secondary ideas we have of him, — namely, as being offended, and as taking ven- 
geance. Now they only who offend him are afraid of his vengeance ; and the 
sentiments of the worst of men are not to be our rule in judging concerning the 
being of a God. If these believe that there is a God, only because they fear him, 
others believe him to be the fountain of all blessedness, and as such they love him. 
Therefore, the ideas that men have of the being of a God did not take their rise 
fi'om fear. 

VII. The being of God appears from the works of providence. Providence is that 
which governs the world, preserves it from returning to its original nothing, and 
supplies all creatures with those things that their respective natures or necessities 
require. Creatures could no more provide for themselves than they could make 
themselves ; and he that provides all things for them is God. All finite beiftgs 
have their respective wants, whetlier they are aware of them or not; and he must 

r 1 John iv. 8. 


be all-sufficient or divine who can fill or supply the necessities of all things. Thus 
the Psalmist speaks of God as supplying the necessities of 'beasts and creeping 
things;' who are said to 'wait upon him, that he may give them their meat in 
due season.'* But more particularly, 

1. The being of God appears from the extraordinary dispensations of providence 
when things happen contrary to the common course and fixed laws of nature, as 
when miracles have been wrought. These are undeniable proofs of the being of a 
God ; for when they are performed, a check or stop is put to the course of nature, and 
its fixed order or laws are controlled or inverted, — and this none but he who is the 
God and Author of nature can do. To deny that miracles have been wrought, is little 
better than scepticism ; since the reality of them hath been proved by the most 
luiquestionable testimony, contained not only in scripture but in other writings, and 
is confessed even by those who deny the principal things designed to be confirmed 
by them. It is true, they were never wrought with an immediate design to prove 
that there is a God, since that is sufficiently demonstrated without them ; but m- 
asmuch as they have been wrought with other views, the being of a God, whose 
immediate power has been exerted in them, appears beyond all contradiction. 

2. The being of God appears also from the common dispensations of providence, 
which we daily behold and experience. These we call common, because they con- 
tain nothing miraculous, or contrary to the laws of nature. They are nevertheless 
wonderful, and have in them the traces and footsteps of infinite wisdom and sover- 
eignty, and therefore prove that there is a God. For it cannot otherwise be ac- 
counted for, that so many things which are altogether unlocked for, should befall us or 
others in the world. Thus one is cast down, and a blast thrown on all his endea- 
vours ; and another is raised beyond his expectation. ' Promotion cometh neither 
from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge ; he 
putteth down one, and settetli up another.' * The wisest and best concerted schemes 
of men are often baffled, and brought to nought, by some unexpected occurrence of 
providence ; and this also argues a divine control. Thus God says, ' I will de- 
stroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the 
prudent.'" And who is it that can turn the counsels of men into foolishness, but 
an infinitely wise God? 

3. The being of God appears from his providing for the necessities of all living. 
There is a natural instinct, in all creatures, to take care of and provide for their 
young, before these are capable of providing for themselves. This is observable 
not only in mankind, as the prophet says, ' Can a woman forget her sucking child ?'^ 
but also in the lower sort of creatures. Even those which are naturally most fierce 
and savage, provide for their young with extraordinary diligence ; and they some- 
times neglect and almost starve themselves to provide for them, and endanger their 
own lives to defend them. They bring forth their young at the most convenient 
season of the year, — when the springing grass begins to supply them with food, — 
when the fowls of the air may get a livelihood by picking up the seed that is sown, 
and not covered by the earth, — and when the trees begin to put forth their fruits 
to supply and feed them. A large class of them are provided, too, with the breast, the 
paps, the udder, replenished with milk ; and there is a natural instinct in their 
young, to desire their appropriate nourishment. Many of the beasts of the field 
are furnished also with weapons for their defence ; others have a natural swiftness 
to escape from danger ; and the feeble have provided for them holes and caverns in 
the earth to secure them from pursuit. Now these provisions cannot be the eftect 
of mere chance, but are all evident proofs of the being of a God. 

Providence is, in a peculiar manner, concerned for the supply of man, the no- 
blest of all creatures in the world. ' He giveth food to all flesh. '^ ' Thou preservest 
man and beast. '^ The earth is stored with variety of food. And though the poor, or 
greater part of mankind, cannot purchase those far-fetched or costly dainties which 
are the support of luxury, they may, by their industry, provide that food with which 
the earth is plentifully stored, and which maintains life and health as well as the 

s Psal. civ. 25, 27 ; Psal. cxlv. 15, 16. t PshI. Ixxv. 6, 7- 

u 1 Cor. i. 19. X Isii xlix. 15 y Psal. cxxxvi. 25. z Psal. xxxvi. 6. 

1- C 


luxuries of the rich, who fare deliciously every day ; and if their families increase, 
and a greater number is to be provided for, they generally have a supply in pro- 
portion to their increasing number. Providence also has stored the earth with vari- 
ous medicines, and given skill to men to use them as a relief against the many sick- 
nesses that we are exposed to. All these things, and innumerable other instances 
that might be given, argue the care and bounty, and consequently prove the being 
of God, whose 'tender mercies are over all his works.' 

Providence provides likewise for the safety of man, against those things that 
threaten his ruin. Things which are the greatest blessings of nature, would be 
destructive, were there not a providence. The sun that enlightens and cherishes 
the world by its heat and influence, would be of no advantage were it situated at 
too great a distance, and would burn it up if it were too near. The sea would 
bring a deluge on the earth and swallow it up, if God had not, by his decree, fixed 
it within certain bounds, and made the shore an enclosure to it, and said, * Hitherto 
shalt thou go, and no farther.' The elements, though advantageous to us by their 
due temperature and mixture, would otherwise be destructive. The various hum 
ours and jarring principles in our bodies would tend to destroy us, were they not 
tempered and disposed by the God of nature for the preservation of life and 
health. The wild beasts would destroy us, had not God put the fear and dread of 
man into them, or, at least, caused them not to desire to be where men live, — the 
forests and desert places, remote from cities, being allotted for them. Some crea- 
tures would be destructive to men, by the increase of their number, did they not 
devour one another ; and insects would destroy the fruits of the earth, did not 
one season of the year help forward their destruction, as another tends to breed 
them. Men themselves, by reason of their contrary tempers and interests, and that 
malice and envy which is the consequence of our apostacy, would destroy one an- 
other, if there were not a providence that restrains them, and gives a check to that 
wickedness that is natural to them, and thus keeps the world in a greater measure 
of peace than it would otherwise possess. Hence, the Psalmist says, ' Surely the 
wrath of man shall praise thee ; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. ' ^ 

It is objected by atheists, against the being of a God, that the wicked are ob- 
served to prosper in the world, and the righteous are oppressed. This objection 
the Psalmist was almost overcome by. ' My feet,' says he, 'were almost gone, my 
steps had well nigh slipped ; for I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosper- 
ity of the wicked.' '^ In answer to this objection, let it be observed, 1. That the idea 
of infinite sovereignty is included in that of a God; so that the distribution of good and 
evil, if made at any time without regard to the deserts of men, argues the sovereignty 
of providence, and therefore proves that there is a God, who gives no account of his 
matters, but has an absolute right to do what he will with his own. 2. There is a dis- 
play of infinite wisdom in these dispensations of providence. The good man is made 
better by affliction, and experiences inconsequence the kindness and care of providence ; 
and the wicked man is forced to own, by his daily experience, that all the outward bless - 
ings he enjoys in this world cannot make him easy or happy, or be a sufficient portion 
for him. 3. Outward prosperity does not prevent or remove inward remorse, or terror 
of conscience, which embitters the joys of the wicked. ' A dreadful sound is in his 
ears; in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.''= ' Even in laughter the 
heaxt is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.'*^ And on the other 
hand, outward trouble in the godly is not inconsistent with spiritual joy and inward 
peace ; which are more than a balance for all the distresses they labour under. 
It is said, ' The heart knoweth his own bitterness, and a stranger doth not inter- 
meddle with his joy.'® ' He shall be satisfied from himself.'^ 4. When we deter- 
mine a person happy or miserable, we are not to judge of things according to their 
present appearance, but are to consider the end of circumstances, since every thing 
is well that ends well. Thus the Psalmist, who, as was befoi-e observed, was stag- 
gered at the prosperity of the wicked, had his faith established, by considering the 
diff"erent events of things. Concerning the wicked, he says, ' Thou didst set them 

a Psal, Ixxvi. 10. b Psiil. Ixxiii. 2, 3, c Job xv, 21. 

<1 Piov, xiv. 13, e Prov. xiv, 10. t Prov. xiv, 14. 


in slippery places ; thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought 
into desolation as in a moment ! they are utterly consumed Avith terrors. As a 
dream when one awaketh ; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise tlieir 
image. 's This is a very beautiful expression, representing all their happiness as 
imaginary, a vain dream, and such as is worthy to be contemned. But as for the 
rio-hteous, he represents them as under the special protection and guidance of God 
here, and as at last received to glory, there to enjoy him as their everlasting portion. 
VIII. The being of a God appears from the foretelling of future events, wliich 
have come to pass according to the predictions. For, 

1, No creature can, by his own wisdom or sagacity, foretell future contingent 
events with an infallible knowledge, or otherwise than by mere conjecture. ' Show 
the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.''^ Our 
knowledge reaches no farther than to see effects, and judge of them in and by their 
causes. Thus we may easily foretell that necessary causes will produce those effects 
that are agreeable to their nature ; but when the effects are not necessary but con- 
tingent, or purely arbitrary, we have nothing to judge by, and cannot come to the 
knowledge of things future, without an intimation of them given us by Him who 
orders and disposes of all things. Hence to foretell things to come in this sense, is 
an evident proof of the being of God. 

2. That there have been predictions of contingent events, and that the things 
foretold have come to pass, is very obvious from scripture ; and if it be highly rea- 
sonable to believe that which is so well-attested as scripture is, we are bound to 
conclude that there is a God. But since we are arguhig, at present, with those 
who deny a God, and consequently all scripture-revelation, we will only suppose 
that they whom we contend with wiU allow that some predictions of contingent 
events have been made and fulfilled ; and then it will follow, that these could have 
been made in no other way but by intimation from one who is omniscient, — and 
that is God. [See note G, p. 23.] 

Having considered how the being of God is proved by the light of nature and by 
the works of God, we shall proceed to show how it appears from scripture ; as it is 
observed in this answer, that ' the word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectu- 
ally reveal him unto men for their salvation.' The arguments hitherto laid down 
are directed more especially to those who are not convinced that there is a God, 
and consequently deny the divine origin of scripture. But this argument supposes 
a conviction of both. It must not, however, be supposed unnecessary ; for as we 
are often exposed to temptations which, though they may not lead us peremp- 
torily to deny that there is a God, may tend to stagger our faith, we may desire 
some evidence of God's being and perfections additional to what the light of nature 
affords, — and this we have in the scriptures. In these the glory of God shines forth 
with the greatest lustre ; and they furnish an account of works more glorious than 
those of nature, — works included in the way of salvation by a Mediator. The 
light of nature proves, indeed, that there is a God ; but the word of God discovers 
him to us as a reconciled God and Father to all wlio believe, and is also accom- 
panied in their experience with internal convictions of this truth which are produced 
by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and with evidences of it which consist in his pe- 
culiar gifts and graces. It is well observed, therefore, that only that knowledge of 
the being of God which is derived from the scriptures, is sufficient and effectual to 
salvation. The knowledge of God which may be attained by the light of nature 
. is sufficient, indeed, in some measure, to restrain our corrupt passions ; and it is 
' conducive to the peace and welfare of civil society : it affords some conviction of 
sin, and, in some respects, leaves men without excuse, and renders their condem- 
nation less aggravated than that of those who sin against the gospel light. Still it 
is insufficient to salvation ; since it is a truth of universal extent, that there is sal- 
vation in no other than Christ,' and that it 'is life eternal to know' not only the 
true God, but 'Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent,'"^' — and this can be known, not by 
the light of nature, but only by divine revelation. 

g Psal. lixiiu '8—20. h Isa. xli. 23. i Acts iv. 12. k John xvii. 3. 


This leads us to consider in what respect the knowledge of God, as it is contained 
in and derived from scripture, is sufficient to salvation. Here we do not assert the 
sufficiency of this knowledge exclusive of the aids of divine grace, so as to oppose 
tlie word to the Spirit. It is said, in this answer, that the word and Spirit of God 
alone can reveal him to men sufficiently to their salvation. The word is a suffi- 
cient rule, so that we need no other to be a standard of our faith, and to direct us 
in the way to eternal life ; but it is the Spirit that enables us to regard, under- 
stand, and apply this rule, and to walk according to it. These two are not to be 
separated. The Spirit doth not save any without the word ; and the word is not 
effectual to salvation, unless made so by the Spirit. 

That nothing short of scripture-revelation is sufficient to salvation, will appear, 
<f we compare it with the natural knowledge we have of God. For, 1. Though 
the light of nature shows us that there is a God, it doth not fully display his per- 
fections and character, as they are manifested in scripture ; wherein God is beheld 
in the face of Christ. It doth not discover any thing of the doctrine of a Trinity 
of persons in the divine essence, who are equally the object of faith ; nor doth it 
give us any intimation of Christ, as the Lord our righteousness, in whom we obtain 
forgiveness of sins. These truths are known only by scripture-revelation. And 
since the knowledge of them is necessary to salvation, we are bound to conclude 
that the scripture alone is sufficient to lead to it. 2. Though the light of nature sug- 
gests that God is to be worshipped, yet there is an instituted way of worshipping 
him, which depends wholly on divine revelation. And since the observance of this 
is necessary, it proves the necessity of scripture. 3. There is no salvation without 
communion with God : he that does not enjoy him here, shall not enjoy* him here- 
after. Now the enjoyment of God is attained by faith, which is founded on scrip- 
ture. Thus the Apostle says, ' That which we have seen and heard, declare we 
unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us ; and truly our fellowship is 
with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'^ 

But it is one thing to say, that the knowledge of God, which is derived from 
scripture, is suffiicent to salvation in an objective way, — that is, tliat it is a suffi- 
cient rule to lead us to salvation ; and another thing to say, that it is made effec- 
tual thereunto. We are now, therefore, to inquire when the doctrines contained in 
scriptvu'e are made effectual to salvation. And they are made so not by the skill 
or wisdom of men representing them in their truest light, nor by all the power of 
reasoning which we are capable of, without the aids of divine grace, but only by the 
Holy Spirit. And this he does, 1. By the internal illumination of the mind, — 
giving a ' spiritual discerning' of divine truth, which, as the apostle says, the 
' natural man receiveth not.''" And this is called, ' a shining into our hearts, to give 
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.'"^ 2. 
By subduing the obstinate will of man, and so enabling it to yield a ready, cheer- 
ful, and tmiversal obedience to the divine commands contained in scripture ; and, 
in particular, inclining it to own Christ's authority as King of saints, and to say, as 
converted Paul did, ' Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?'° 3. By exciting in us 
holy desires after God and Christ, and a very high esteem and value for divine 
truth ; by removing all those prejudices which there are in our minds against the 
word ; and by opening and enlarging our hearts to receive it, and to comply with all 
its commands. Thus the ' Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended to 
the things that wore spoken of Paul.'P And David prays, ' Open thou mine eyes, 
that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. that my ways were directed 
to keep thy statutes ! ' i 

1 1 John i. 3. ml Cor. ii. 14. n 2 Cor. iv. 6. 

o Acts ix. 6. p Acts xvi. 14. q Psal. cxix. 18. compared with v. 5. 

[Note E. Natural IieVgio7i. — Dr. Ridgcley asserts, or simply takes for granted, that by reason or the 
light of nature, ' without the aid of special revelation, it may he known that there is a God.* He 
does not very distinctly say wiuit he means by ' the light ot nature,' but seems, in the next para- 
graph, to understand by it, both the active exercise of judgment in adults, and the undeveloped 
capacity of reason in infants. Does he inteiid, then, to say that there is constitutionally in the 
human mind, a religious light, — a light which discovers the existence of the Deity ? or that man is 
born with the idea of a God ? It he does, all facts and common sense are in ooDosition to bin 


theorj'. That man has a capacity of rtason, or even a conscience or moral sense, no more proves 
that he is born with a theological idea, than that he has eyes and ears and all the mechanisni and 
capiicity of perception, proves that he is born with the idea of towns and landscapes, of noise and 

But does Dr. Ridgeley mean by ' the light of nature,' a power in man to infer religious truths from 
the appearances of design and wisdom in the universe? Then, what nation, or u hat individual, 
ever successfully used this power? what nation, or what individual, ever diseovercd, ' without the 
aid of special revelation,' that there is a God ? Man unquestionably has capacity to see, in the 
plusical phenomena around him, many evidences of 'the eternal power and Godhead' of Deity, 
ich^n they are pointed out to him (Rom. i. 19, 20.) ; but has he, in any instance, detected them by 
his unaided reason? or has he even, by his ouii effort, conquered a strong natural (iisinclination 
either to look at them, or to receive the truth which tiiey evince? Man, in his natural condition, 
is unv^illing to know God. Even after the fact of the divine existence is communicated to him, he 
' doL-s not like to retain God in his knowledge,' — Rom. i. '2S. The whole ancient heathen world 
' walked in vanity of mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of 
God through the ignorance that was in them, because of the blindness of their hearts,' — Eph. iv. 
17, 18. They were naturally or constitutionally characterized by alienation from God, by dark- 
ness, by ignorance, by blindness of heart ; and though they received many intimations of the divine 
existence, and not a ^e\\ details as to even his character, works, and will, 'they glorified him not as 
God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and changed his glory into an 
image made like to corruptible man, ami to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things,' — 
Rom. i. 21 — 2^3. Now if man is constitutionally a hater of the idea of God, — if he is averse to in- 
quire after it, — if, when it is coniinunicated to him, he likes not to retain it, and transmutes and 
modifies it into the idea of a mere creature ; on what principle of consistency, or by what law of 
probability, can he be supposed capable of making an original conception of God, or of effecting a 
discovery of his existence? 

As regards both the being of God, and all other subjects embraced by what is usually st\ led 
'natural religion,' there were pristine revelations made to the whole world. During the entire 
period from the fall of Adam till the death of Jacob, there were living among men some individuals 
who received oracles from heaven, and multitudes who had been instructed by either these men or 
thtir preiiecessors. Ixevelation was probably not less abundant among mankind at large previously 
to the call of Abraham, thaii in the Hebrew commonwealth subsequent to the death of Moses ; or 
if not so lull, or in so fixed a form, it was at least as frequently made, and as extensively communi- 
cated. The antediluvians sank into corruption, and the people of the patriarchal age into poly- 
theism, not from any deficiency in supernatural instruction, but from that strong constitutional 
enmity against God which frequently seduced the Israelites themselves — seduced ihein even amid 
the prodigies of the revelation from Sinai — into debasing idolatry. Nothing — not even line upon 
line, and precept upon precept of supeinatural instruction — could keep God's own peculiar [leople 
from sinking into practical atheism, without the aid of constant divine guardianship, of occasional 
miracles, and of frequent national chastisements. The universal idolatry of other nations is hence 
a proof that all had received revelation, and that all were averse to the lessons which it taught : it 
exhibits them as exactly in the position which the Israelites, after being well-instructed ironi 
heaven, would again and again have permanently occupied, had they not been reclaimed by special 
divine interference. II then, amid the abounding light of revelation in the patriarchal age, and 
amid the special, miraculous light of revelation under the Mosaic economy, human reason dis- 
placed an uniform and inveterate tendency to plunge into polytheism, how, or in what imaginable 
age or circumstances, can it be supposed to have discovered either the existence of a supreme and 
only Deity, or any other doctrine of natural religion ? 

Whatever reason may be supposed able to accomplish in man's fallen state, it could doubtless 
most easily achieve in his state of innocence. Man, in paradise, was unenfeebled by depravity, un- 
warped by prejudice, and unbefooled by ignorance; he was distinct in his conceptions, [lerspicacious 
in his judgments, vigorous, searching, and accurate in his reasonings; }et, even in that condition, 
he appears to have received all his religious knowledge by revelation. Whatever itleas of God, of 
immortality, or of his ov\n state and duties he possessed, were communicated to him by the Deity. 
Not only did he enjoy the light of one grand revelation, but he constantly walked in vocal and 
visible intercourse with God. What a commentary is his paradisaic history upon the absence of 
all ' natural religion,' and the deep necessity for a revelation, among his sinful degraded posterity 1 

All the ancient nations who were cotemporary with the Hebrew commonwealth, leceived what- 
ever religious ideas they possessed through tradition from the ante-jMosaic re\elatioris. "All the 
knowledge," savs Shucktord, " which the ancients had on religious subjects, lay at first in a narrow 
compass ; they were in possession of a lew truths which they had received from their forefathers ; 
the_\ transmitted these to their children, onl) telling them that such and suih things were so, but 
not giving them reasons for, or demonstrations of, the truth of them. Philosophy was not disputa- 
tive till it came into Greece ; the ancient professors had no controversies about it ; they received 
what was handed down to them, and out of the treasure of their traditions imparted to others; 
and the principles they went upon to te.ich or to learn by, were not to search into the nature of 
things, or to consider what they could find by philosophical examinations, but, 'Ask, and it shall 
be ti'ld jou; search the records of antiquity, and \ou shall find what )0u inquiie after,' — these 
were the maxims and directions of their studies." (Shuckford, vol. i. preface, pp. 47, 48.) Even 
when the heathen philosophers launched into speculation and inquiry, tlie> steered in the light not 
only of tradition from patriarchal revelation, but of information received from the Jewish people, 
or in some instances, perhaps, immediately derived from the Jewish sciiptures. Vet what theolo- 
gical discoveries did they achieve? what doctrines of natural religion did they clearl) or consist- 
ently discern? They confounded the D.ity with his works; tney believeu in the eternity vi 


matter ; they dreamed of an abstract necessity or fate to which God as well as man is subject ; and, 
either in these or in other respects, they entertained notions utterly incompatible with a true idea 
of either God or moral obligation. Even with all their aids from tradition and the Jews, they 
failed, by the most vigorous and prolonged efforts of reason, to produce more than a hideous carica- 
ture of the most obvious of those docirines which pass under the name of natural religion. Who, 
then, can doubt that, had they wanted the aids which were afforded them, they could not have 
made so much as one theological discovery? 

In the proper sense of words, none know God but those who are taught by the Divine Spirit. 
Proofs of God's existem-e and representations of his character, drawn directly from revelation, or 
detected by the light of it in the «orks of crt-ation, fail, when exhibited by mere reason, to carry 
distinct or true ideas to the human understanding. Unregenerated men, after all they can harii 
from human teaching, or from a natural study of the scriptures and of expositions of theology, are 
ai>i« £» Tw Kovfiu, " atheists in the worLi,' — Eph. ii. 12. Their ideas of God, and of his government, 
tliough not so gross as those of polytheists, are as essentially imaginary, and as utterly uncoriiiected 
with any true devotion, any real religion. Fallc-n man can knosv the Divine Being only in con- 
iiexoM with the plan of redemption. Adam, when he was created, required a paradisaic revelation, 
to teach him the religion of a state of innocence ; and when he fell, he equally required, and he re- 
ceived, a revelation of the mediation of a Saviour, to teach him religion in his new condition. 
■Whether, without the new revelation, he would or could have retained the knowledge ot God 
which he possessed before he (ell, needs not be inquired ; for he obviously needed that knowledge 
to be so revived, enlarged, and uioditied, as to be adajited to his new circumstances, else the second 
revelation would not have been so immediately given. God, to be known at all by fallen man, 
must be known as just atid yet merciful, an avenger of sin and yet long-suffering to the sinner; 
and he can be known thus only ' in the lace of Christ Jesus.' While whatever views men received 
of his being and character were aiforded directly or indirectly by supernatural communication, all 
revelation, from the announcement to Adam of a Saviour till the close of the writings of John, 
proceeded on the scheme of redemption, and was made through the mediation of Christ. ' Natural 
religion,' therefore, as to even its elementary doctrines of the divine existence, is either a delusion 
of the fancy, or an unacknov\ledged transcript of the lessons of inspiration. * No man hath seen 
God at anv time : the only begotten Son, who is in the l)Osom of the Father, he hath declared 

him,' John i. 18. * No man knoweth the Son, but the Father ; neither knpsveth any man the 

Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him,' — Matt. xi. 27. 

Ail proofs, then, of the existence of God, derive their origin and force from revelation. Those 
which rest on abstract reasoning, are simply exhibitions of what the enlightened understanding has 
learned in the Bible ; and those which rest on the appearances of design and skill in the universe, 
are God's own commentaries in his word of inspiration on the works of his hands. A doctrine — 
the doctrine of God's existence, that of his unity, that of his providence, or any other of an ele- 
mentary character — is learned, directly or indirectly, irom scripture; it is studied in the light in 
which scripture exhibits it ; it is believed on the evidence uhicb scripture displays in support of it ; 
mid only then is it announced as a doctrine of ' natural religion,' and worked up into a laboured 
theory or demonstration sustained or vindicable by reason. Scripture not only furnishes the sub- 
stratum of all the theology claimed for 'the light of nature,' but suggests, and in some instances 
details, the arguments which reason adduces in its support. What, tor example, is the beautiful 
interrogation of the Psalmist but the stamen of what has vegetated in the hot-house of reason into 
main a laboured proof of the divine perfections: ' He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he 
that formed the e\e, shall he not see? he that chastiseth the nations, shall not he correct? he that 
teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?' — Ps. xciv. 9, 10. Or what is the sublime and pro- 
'oiiged answer which God made to Job out of the whiilvvind, but a brilliant summary of all the 
thousand gorgeous proofs which have been furnished of the divine existence and government, wis- 
dom, power, and beneficence, from the facts and phenomena of nearly all the physical sciences? See 
Job, chap, xxxviii, xxxix. But for the hints given, and the illumination communicated, by these 
portions of scriptuie, and by multitudes of others of a similar description, man, in the nineteenth 
ceniur\, would have continued to make as blundering, irreligious, and heathenish an use of the les- 
sons of cosmogoiiN, zoology, astronomy, and providence, as in the ante-Mosaic age, or during the 
psdiny drt)s of the Greek philosophy. What is called "the hook of nature' is, in all respects, a 
hook l>ing open in darkness, till its pages are illuminated and its lessons brought into view, by the 
light ot revelation. 

Proofs, then, of all religious doctrines, be they what they may, ought to be stated and illustrated 
professedly on the authority of scripture. Whatever theorists or systematic theologians ma) think 
to the contrary, a plain statement from the divine word will go farther to arrest the attention and 
shake the prejudices of even an atheist, than the most elaborate 'demonstration,' on what are 
termed ' the principles of reason.' Man's pride, far more than the interest of truth, is concerned 
in working up a hint of scripture into a profound abstract argument. Revelation is felt by even an 
tnlighiciied Christian mind — and felt increas ngly in the very proportion of its enlightenment — to 
he as essential to the guidance aiul successful i>sue of any religious effort of reason, or any portion 
of theological argumentation, as the light and heat of the sun are to the cares and labours of agri 
culture. Hence, Dr. Ridgeley — though inconsistently with his sentiments respecting ' the light of 

nature' correctly and very beautifully intersperses his leading proofs of the divine existence with 

illustrations and quotations from scripture. Without these, his arguments, in some instances, 
Niould be dim and indistinct even to Christians ; while with them, and by means of them, they be- 
come intelligible to the most obtuse unUerstandiigs, and fitted to confound the most obdurate 

Much is gained with infidels, and nothing lost, by discarding the notion of 'natural religion. 
The evidences for the genuineness, credibilit\, and insoiiation of scrioture, are both more easily 


k'd and more facile of comprfhciis'on, than those usually adduced for man's moral accountahilitv, 
and kindred doctrines on tlie principles of mere reason ; and they possess the high recommendatioli, 
that they strike infidelity, atiii paganism, and Mahommedanism, and all the forms of practical atheism, 
at their roots. One of Dr. Rulgeley's proofs of the beitig of God, for example, is derived from the 
giving and fulfilment of prophecy (See afterwards the passage indicated by the note ' Proof of the 
being of God from prophecy') ; it is in reality a direct and conclusive proof of the inspiration of 
scripture; and, as adduced for Dr. Ridgeley's purpose, itaffordsan instance of what a waste of time 
and attention there is, in setting up natural religion as anterior to revelation. The grand, indeed the 
onlv re ligious office of reason, apart from the teaching of scripture, is simply to examine the evi- 
dences of our having a revelation ; and when it has been convinced by these, it ought to conceive 
everv doctrine in the light in which revelation represents it, and bow with submission to every lesson 
which revelation inculcates. Were reason always restricted to these limits — were it not set up by 
liuniati pride as a discoverer and propounder of theological truths anterior to revelation, or ab- 
stractedly from its instructions — there would be less practical atheism in the world, less distorted- 
ness of vision in looking at the fundamental principles of religion, fewer misapprehensions, fallacious 
views, and caricatured representations of the character and government of Deity. 

The preceding remarks all proceed on a strictly theological view of the question of Natural 
religion. After writing them, I thought that a very satisfactory corroboration of them might be 
furnished by exhibiting the question in a historical view. To do this, however, would require 
greatly more space than can be apportioned to a single note. I shall only state that the very 
learned critic and historian, Dr. Shuckford, after a long and elaborate induction of facts, arrives, 
simply in the light of history, at just the same conclusion which I have attempted to vindicate. 
The terms in which he sums up his argument are these : — " All history, both sacred and profane, 
offers us various arguments to prove that God revealed to men in the first ages how he would be 
worshipped ; but that, when men, instead of adhering to what had been revealed, came to lean to 
their own understandings, and to set up what they thought to be right, in the room of what God 
bimselt had directed, they lost and bewildered themselves in endless error. This, I am sensible, 
is a subject which should be examined to the bottom ; and I am persuaded, if it were, the result 
of the inquiry would be this, — that he who thinks to prove that the woild ever did in fact 'by 
wisdom know God,' — that any nation upon earth, or any set of men, ever did, from the principles 
of reasori only, without any assistance from revelation, find out the true nature and the true wor- 
ship of the Deity — must find out some history of the world entirely different from all the accounts 
which the present sacred or profane writers give us ; or his opinion must appear to be a mere 
guess and conjecture of what is barely possible, but what all history assures us never really was 
done in the world." — Shuckforu's Connexion of the Sacred and Profane History of the World, 
vol. i. p. 323 Ed.] 

[Note F. Proof of the Being of God from the absence of creative power in the creature. — This argu- 
ment for the being of God from the light of nature, is really an argument from the want of creative 
power in the creature. Like many others which profess to elicit proof independently of the light 
of scripture, it is futile and inconclusive. It takes for granted that creation was " the making of 
something out of nothing, or out of matter altogether unfit to be made into what is produced out 
of it." But this is to prove a more obvious point from a more difficult one; it is to take for granted 
what is comparatively obscure, and argue from it what is comparatively clear. Most of the ancient 
philosophers freely admitted the existence of Deity, and, at the same time, contended for both the 
eternity and the fitness of material substances. Dr. Ridgeley's argument would have appeared to 
them much more rational if it had inverted the order of the premises and the conclusion, — if, in- 
stead of assuming the creation of matter in order to prove the being of God, it had assumed the 
being of God in order to prove the creation of matter. The philosophers' doctrine, indeed, seems 
to enlightened reason abundantly absurd; but so does the doctrine of atheists; and both the one 
and the other have been contended for by natural reason, or what Dr. Ridgeley defines to be "the 
light of nature." Not only the being of God, then, but the fact from which he attempts to prove 
it — the creation of matter out of nothing — are learned, and can be rightly proved, not by reason, 
but from the lessons of revelation. — Ed.] 

[Note G. Proof of the Being of God from prophecy. — This argument takes for granted the credi- 
bility of scripture, and is a direct and leading proof of its inspiration ; and only through the medium 
of the authority of scripture, does it prove the existence of God. See remaiks upon it in Note 
• IVatural Religion,' page 20 Ed.] 


Question III. What is the word of God f 

Answer. The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God, the only 
rule of faith and obedience. 

In speaking to this an.swer, we shall consider the several names bj which the scrip 
ture is set forth, with the import thereof, and more particiilarlj that hy whicli it 
is most known, — namely, the Old and New Testament ; and then speak of it as a 
rule of faith and obedience. 


The several names given to scripture. 

The word of God is sometimes called his 'law,' 'statutes,' 'precepts,' 'command- 
ments,' or 'ordinances ;' to signify his authority and power to demand obedience of 
his creatures. This he does in his word, — showing us in what particular instances, 
and in what manner, we are to yield obedience. It is also called his 'judgments ;' 
implying that he is the great Judge of the world, and that he will deal with men in 
a judicial way, according to their works, as agreeable or disagreeable to his law con- 
tained in his word. It is likewise called his ' righteousness ;' because all that he 
commands in his word is holy and just, and his service is highly reasonable. It is 
also called his 'testimonies ;' as containing the record or evidence which he has 
given of his own perfections, — whereby he has demonstrated them to the world. 
Thus we are said to ' behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord.'i It is also 
called his ' way ;' as containing a declaration of the glorious works that he has 
done, both of nature and of grace, — a declaration of the various methods of his 
dealing Avith men, or of the way that they should walk in, which leads to eternal 
life. Moreover, it is called, ' the oracles of God ;''" to denote that many things 
contained in it could not have been known by us till he was pleased to reveal them. 
The apostle, accordingly, speaks of the great things contained in the gospel, as be- 
ing hid in God, — ' hid from ages and generations past, but now made manifest to 
the saints.'® Again, it is sometimes called 'the gospel*- — especially those parts of 
it which announce the glad tidings of salvation by Christ, or the method which God 
ordained for taking away the guilt and subduing the power of sin. The apostle 
particularly calls it, ' The glorious gospel of the blessed God,'* and, ' the gospel of 
our salvation.''* 

In this answer, the word of God is called the Old and New Testament. That 
part of it which was written before our Saviour's incarnation, and which contains 
a relation of God's dealings with his church, from the beginning of the world to 
that time, or a prediction of what should be fulfilled in following ages, is called the 
Old Testament. The other part, which contains an account of God's dispensation 
of grace, from Christ's first to his second coming, is called the New. A testa- 
ment is the declared or written will of a person ; by which some things are be- 
queathed to those who are concerned or described in it. The scripture is God's 
written will or testament, as containing an account of what he has freely given in 
his covenant of grace to fallen man. Hence it contains an account of many valu- 
able legacies given to the heirs of salvation, — the blessings of both worlds, all the 
privileges contained in those great and precious promises with which the scriptm-e 
abounds. Thus it is said, ' Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward re- 
ceive me to glory ;'^ and, ' The Lord will give grace and glory.'^ It describes the 
testator, Christ ; who gives eternal life to his people, and confirms aU the promises 
which are made in him. These are said to be ' in him yea and amen, to the glory of 
God.'^ More especially, he ratified this testament by his death ; as the same apostle 
observes — which is a known maxim of the civil law — that 'where a testament is, 
there must of necessity be the death of the testator, '** upon which the force or 
validity of the testament depends. And the word of God gives us a large account 
how all the blessings which God bestows upon his people receive their validity 
from the death of Christ. It also discovers to us who are the heirs, or legatees, 
to whom these blessings are given ; describing them as repenting, believing, re- 
turning sinners, — who may lay claim to the blessings of the covenant of grace. It, 
aiorcover, has several seals annexed to it, namely, the sacraments under the Old 
and New Testament ; of which we have a particular 'account in scripture. [See 
Note H, end of section.] This leads us to consider, 

q 2 Cor. iii. 18. r Rom. iii. 2. s Eplies. iii. 9. Coles, i. 26. 

t 1 Tim. i. II. u Eph. i. 13. x Psal. Ixxiii. 24. 

V PshI. Ixxxiv. 11. z 2 Cor. i. 20. a Heb. ix. 16, 17. 


How the scripture is divided or distinguished. 

As to the Old Testament, it is sometimes distinguished or divided into ' Moses 
and the prophets,'^ or ' Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. '*= It may be con- 
sidered also, as containing historical and prophetic writings, and writings that are 
more '^especially doctrinal or poetical. The prophets, too, may be considered as to 
ths time when they wrote, some before and others after the captivity. They may 
be distinguished as to their subject-matter. Some contain a very clear and parti- 
cular account of the person and kingdom of Christ, — as Isaiah, who is, for this 
reason, called, by some, the evangelical prophet ; others contain reproofs, and de- 
nounce and lament approaching judgments, — as the prophet Jeremiah ; others 
encourage the building of the temple, the setthig up of the worship of God, and 
the reformation of the people upon their return Irom captivity, — as Zechariah and 
Haggai. As for the historical parts of scripture, these contain an account of God's 
dealings with his people, either before the captivity, — as Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 
Kings, &c. ; or after it, — as Ezra and Nehemiah. 

The Books of the New Testament may be thus divided : — Some of them are 
historical, namely, such as narrate the life and death of ovtr Saviour, as the four 
gospels, or the ministry of the apostles, and the first planting and spreading of the 
gospel, as the Acts of the apostles. Others are more especially doctrinal, and are 
written in the form of epistles by Paul and some other apostles. One, the book 
of Revelation, is prophetical ; wherein are foretold the shifting condition of the 
church, the persecutions it should meet with from its anti-christian enemies, its 
final victory over them, and its triumphs as reigning with Christ in his kingdom. 
This leads us to consider 

When God Jirst revealed his to-ill to man in scripture, and how the revelation was 

gradually enlarged. 

There was no written word from the beginning of thq world till the time of 
Moses, an interval of between two and three thousand years ; and it was almost a 
thousand years longer before the canon of the Old Testament was completed by 
Malachi, the last prophet ; and some htmdred years after that, before the canon of 
the New Testament was given ; — so that, as the apostle says, in the beginning of 
the epistle to the Hebrews, God revealed his will ' at sundry times,' as well as ' in 
divers manners,' and by divers inspired writers. 

The church, however, before it had a written word, was not destitute of a rule 
of faith and obedience, or unacquainted with the way of salvation. To suppose 
this, would be greatly to detract from the glory of the divine government, and re- 
flect on God's goodness. He supplied the want of a written word by revealing his 
will in other ways. And he showed his sovereignty, in making known his will in 
whatever way he pleased ; and his wisdom and goodness, in giving his written word 
at a time when the necessities of- men most required it. When there was no written 
word, the Son of God frequently condescended to appear himself, and converse with 
man, and so reveal his mind and will to him. There was also the ministry of 
angels subservient to this end ; for the word was often spoken by angels, sent to 
instruct men in the mind and will of God. The church had among them likewise, 
more or less, the spirit of prophecy, whereby many were instructed in the mind of 
God. And though the prophets were not commanded to commit to writing what 
they received by inspiration, yet they were authorized and qualified by it to in- 
struct others in the way of salvation. Thus Enoch is said to have ' prophesied ' in 
his days;** and Noah is called ' a preacher of righteousness.'® During great part 
of this time, the lives of men were very long, namely, eight or nine hundred years ; 
and the same persons could transmit the word of God by their own living testi- 
mony. Afterwards, in the latter part of the period when there was no written 
word, the world apostatized from God, and almost all flesh corrupted their way, — 
not for want of a sufficient rule of obedience, but through the perverseness and de- 

bLukexvi. 29. c Luke xxiv. 44. d Jude 14, 15. e 2 Pet. ii. 5; Heb. xi. 7. 

L D 


pravlty of their natures ; and they almost wholly sunk into idolatry, and were judi- 
cially excluded from God's special care. And Abraham's family being the only 
church that remained in the world, God continued to communicate to them the 
knowledge of his will in the same extraordinary way that he had done in former 
ages. But when man's life was shortened and reduced to the same standard as 
now it is, of threescore and ten years, and the church had become very numerous, 
and God had promised that he would increase them yet more ; then they stood in 
need of a written word, to prevent the inconveniences that might have arisen from 
their continuing any longer without one, and God thought fit, as a great instance 
of favour to man, to command Moses to write his law, as a standing rule of faith 
and obedience to his church. This leads us to consider a very important question, 

Whether the church, under the Old Testament dispensation, understood the written 
word, or the spiritual meaning of the laws contained in it ? 

Some have thought that the state of the church before Christ came in the flesh, 
was so dark that, though they had, in wliole or in part, the scriptures of the Old 
Testament, they did not know the way of salvation. The papists generally assert that 
they did not ; and they therefore fancy, that all who lived before Christ's time 
were shut up in a prison, where they remained till he went from the cross to reveal 
himself to them, and, as their leader, conduct them in triumph to heaven. And 
some protestants think that the state of all who lived in those times was so dark that 
they knew but little of Christ and his gospel, though shadowed forth or typified by 
the ceremonial law ; and they found their opinion on the passage where Moses is 
said to liave ' put a vail over his face, so that the children of Israel could not sted- 
fastly look to the end of that which is abolished, which vail is done away in Christ;*' 
and on those scriptures that speak of the Jewisli dispensation, as ' a night of dark- 
ness ' compared with that of the gospel, which is represented as ' a perfect day, ' or 
'as the rising of the sun.'e As these persons extend the darkness of the Jewish 
dispensation farther than, as I humbly conceive, they ought to do ; so they speak 
more of the wrath, bondage, and terror which attended it, than they have ground 
to do, — especially when they make the darkness universal. There are several 
reasons which may induce us to believe that the Old Testament church under- 
stood a great deal more of the gospel, shadowed forth in the ceremonial law, and 
had more communion with God, and less wrath, terror, or bondage, than these 
persons suppose. 

1. Some of the Old Testament saints expressed a great degree of faith in 
Christ, and love to him, and expected him to come in our nature ; and many of 
the prophets, in their inspired writings, discover that they were not strangers 
to the way of redemption, and reconciliation to God by him, as ' the Lord our 
righteousness.' A multitude of scriptures might be cited from the Old Testament, 
which speak of Christ, and salvation by him.'' Thus Abraham is described as i-e- 
joicing to see his day;'' and the prophet Isaiah is so very particular and express 
in the account he gives of his person and offices, that I cannot see how any one can 
reasonably conclude him to have been wholly a stranger to the gospel himself.'^ Can 
any one think this, who reads his fifty-third chapter ; in which he treats of Christ's 
life, death, sufferings and offices, and of the way of salvation by him ? It is ob- 
jected to this, that the prophets who delivered evangelical truths, understood but 
little of them themselves, because of the darkness of the dispensation they were 
under : it is said, that the prophets, indeed, ' searched ' into the meaning of their 
own predictions, but to no purpose ; for * it was revealed to them, that not unto 
themselves, but unto us they ministered,'' — that is, the account they gave of our 
Saviour was designed to be understood, not by them, but by us, in this present 
gospel-dispensation. The answer that may be given to this objection is, that tlie 
prophets inquired into the meaning of their own prophecies, because their own sal- 

f 2 Cor. iii. 13, Ik g Isk. xxi. 11 ; Cant. ii. 17 ; Mai. iv. 2. 

h Jer. xxiii. 5, 6 ; Zech. xiii. 7 ; Psal- xxxii. I, 2. compared with Rom. iv. 6. 
i John viii. 56. Isa. xxii. 25, and hi. 13—15. 1 1 Pet. i. 10—12. 


ration was concerned in tliem. But we must not suppose that they inquired to no 
purpose, or were not able to understand them. And when it is farther said, that ' not 
unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things that are now reported,' 
the meaning is, not that they did not understand those things, or had not much 
concern in them, but that the glory of the gospel state, which was foretold in their 
prophecies, was what we should behold with our eyes, and not they themselves. 
This objection, therefore, hath no force in it to overthrow the argument we are 

2. It is certain that the whole ceremonial law had a spiritual meaning annexed 
to it ; for it is said that ' the law was a shadow of good things to come,'™ and that 
all those things ' happened to them for ensamples, [or types,] and they are written 
for our admonition. '° Now it is unreasonable to suppose that the spiritual mean- 
ing of the ceremonial law should not be known by those to whom principally the 
law was given, or that the gospel, wrapt up in it, should not be seen till the dispen- 
sation was abolished, the ceremonial law abrogated, and the nation cast off to whom 
it was given. 

3. The knowledge of the gospel, or faith in Christ founded on it, whicla is neces- 
sary for our salvation, was no less necessary for the salvation of those who lived in 
former ages ; for it was as much a truth then as it is now, that there is salvation in 
no other. Hence the church of old were as truly obliged to believe in him who was 
to come, as we are to believe in him as having already come. But it is inconsis- 
tent with the divine goodness to require knowledge, and not to give any expedient 
to attain it. And while the Old Testament church were obliged to believe in 
Christ, they really were not able to do so, if they did not understand the meaning of 
that law which was the only means of revealing him. Or if Christ was revealed in the 
ceremonial law, and they had no way to understand it, he was the same to them as 
though he had not been revealed. Either, therefore, we must suppose that the 
knowledge of Christ was attainable by them, and consequently that he was revealed 
to them, or else they must have been excluded from a possibility of salvation. 

4. They had sufficient helps for understanding the spiritual meaning of the 
ceremonial law. Not only were some hints of explication given in the Old 
Testament scriptures, but there was also extraordinary revelation. The Jewish 
church was more or less favoured with this, almost throughout the dispensation ; 
and by means of it, together with the aid of the scriptures themselves, it is more than 
probable that they received the spiritual sense and meaning of those things which 
were contained in the Old Testament. Besides, there was one tribe, namely, that 
of Levi, almost entirely employed in studying and explaining the law of God. And 
it is said respecting them, ' They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy 
law ;'" 'the priest's lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the lav/ at his 
mouth ;'P that is, the priests should, by all proper methods, understand the meaning of 
the law, that they might be able to teach the people when coming to be instructed 
by them. There were also among them, in some ages at least, several schools of the 
prophets. And some persons who belonged to these had extraordinary revelations ; 
while they who had them not, made the scriptures their study, that they might be 
able to instruct others. From all this it appears, that the Jewish church had a 
great deal of knowledge of divine truth, and of the spiritual meaning of the Old 
Testament ; though we will not deny that the gospel dispensation hath a clearer 
light, and excels in glory. We shall now proceed to show that 

Scripture is a rule of faith and obedience. 

Though the Jewish dispensation is abolished, the Old Testament is not to be 
set aside as a rule of faith and obedience to us, nor are we to reckon it an 
useless part of scripture, or one which does not concern us. The greatest part 
of the doctrines contained in it are of perpetual obligation to the church, in 
all its dispensations or changes. As for the ceremonial law, which is abolished, 
and some forensic or political laws by which the Jews, in particular, were 

m Heb. x. 1. n 1 Cor. x. 11. o Deut. ixxiii. 10. p MaL ii. 7. 


governed, — these, indeed, are not so far a rule of obedience to us, as that we should 
think ourselves obliged to observe them, as the Jews were of old. Yet even these 
are of use to us ; for we see in them what was then the rule of faith and obedience to 
the church, and how far it agrees as to its substance, or the things signified bj it, 
with the present dispensation ; we see also the_ wisdom, sovereignty, and grace of 
God to his church in former ages, and how what wa^ then t-jpified or prophesied is 
fulfilled to us. Thus it is said, that 'whatsoever things were written aforetime were 
written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, 
might have hope.'i 

The scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the whole 
mind and will of God, and therefore are justly styled a perfect rule of faith and obe- 
dience. We do not mean, however, that they contain an account of every thing that 
God hath done or will do, in his works of providence and grace, from the begin- 
ning to the end of time, for this is altogether unnecessary. Hence it is said that, 
while Christ did :»m^ny -other signs than are written in the gospel, those things 
which are c'ontained in it ' are written that we might believe ; ''" and that ' there were 
many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written every one, the 
world would not contain the books that should be written.'^ Neither do we under- 
stand that God has given us in the scriptures an account of all his secret counsels 
and purposes relating to the event of things, or the final state of particular persons, 
abstracted from those marks on which our hope of salvation is founded, or of their 
outward condition, or the good or bad success that sliall attend their undertakings 
in the world, or of the time of their living upon earth. These, and many other 
matters of a like nature, are secrets which we are not to inquire into ; God, for wise 
ends best known to himself, not having thought fit to reveal them in his word. 
' Secret things belong unto the Lord our God ; but those things which are revealed 
belong unto us, and to our children.'* When Peter was over curious in inquiring 
concerning the future state or condition of John, our Saviojir gives him this tacit 
reproof, ' What is that to thee?'" Nor are we to suppose that the divine perfec- 
tions, which are infinite, are fully and adequately revealed to man ; since, from the 
nature of the thing, it is impossible that they should. That which is in itself in- 
comprehensible, cannot be so revealed that we should be able fully to comprehend 
it ; though that which is possible, or at least necessary, to be known of God, is 
clearly, revealed to us. Again, we do not suppose that every doctrine which is to be 
assented to as an article of faith, is revealed in express words in scripture ; since 
many truths are to be deduced from it by just and necessary consequences, and 
thereby become a rule of faith. Nor are we to suppose that every part of scripture 
fully and clearly discovers all those things which are contained in the whole of it. 
There was increasing light given by degrees to the church, in succeeding ages, as it 
grew upffrom its infant state to a state of manhood. Hence there is a clearer and 
fuller revelation of the glorious mysteries of the gospel, under the New Testament 
dispensation, than there was before it. The apostle compares the state of the church 
under thd ceremonial law, to that of 'an heir under age,' or of 'children' under 
the direction of 'tutors and governors,! whose instruction and advances in know- 
ledge are ^proportioned to their age.^ Thus God revealed his word ' at sundry 
times, ' as-.Avell as ' in divers manners. '^ 

The word of God, accompanied as it was with those helps which were before men- 
tioned to an understanding of the sense of it, was always sufl&cient to lead men into 
the knowledge of divine truth ; and the canon being completed, it is now so in an 
eminent degree. And it is agreeable to the divine perfections, that such a sufficient 
rule of faith and obedience' should be given ; for since salvation could not be at- 
tained, nor God glorified, without a discovery of suitable means, it is not consistent 
with his wisdom and goodness that we should be leit in uncertainty, and at the 
same time rendered incapable of the highest privileges which attend instituted wor- 
ship. Can we suppose that, when all other things necessary to salvation are adjusted, 
and many insuperable difficulties surmounted, and an invitation given to come 
and partake of it, that God should lay such a bar in our way as an impossibility 

q Rom. XV. 4. r John xx. 30. s John xxi. 25. t Deut. xxix. 29, 

u John xxi. 21, 22. x Gal. iv. 1, 3. y Heb. i. 1. 


to attain it for want of a sufficient rule ? And since none but God can give ns 
such a rule, it is inconsistent with his sovereignty to leave it to men to prescribe 
what is acceptable in his sight. Thej may, indeed, give laws, and thereby oblige 
their subjects to obedience ; but these must be such as are within their own 
sphere. Their power does not extend itself to religious matters, so that our faith and 
duty to God should depend upon their will ; for this would be a bold presumption, 
and an extending of their authority beyond due bounds. Since, therefore, a rule 
of faith is necessary, we must conclude that God has given us such a one ; and it 
must certainly be worthy of himself, and therefore perfect, and everyway sufficient 
to answer its design. 

That the scripture is a sufficient rule of faith farther appears from the happy 
consequences of our obedience to it, — from that peace, joy, and holiness, wliich be- 
lievers are made partakers of, while steadfastly adhering to it. Thus it is said that, 
'through comfort of the scriptures they have hope,'"^ and that by the teaching of 
scripture ' the man of God is made wise to salvation, and perfect, thoroughly fur- 
nished unto all good works.'* The perfection of the law is demonstrated by the 
Psalmist, from its effects, that ' it converts the soul, makes wise the simple, re- 
joices the heart, enlightens the eyes.'^ 

We might further argue that the scripture is a perfect rule of faith, from the threat- 
enings which are denounced against those who pretend to add to, or take from it. 
Tampering with scripture was strictly forbidden, even when but a part of it was 
committed to writing. Thus says God, ' Ye shall not add to the word which I 
command you; neither shall you diminish ought from 1^'*= And the apostle de- 
nounces an anathema against any one who should pretend to 'preach any other gos- 
pel,' than that which he had received from God. ^ And in the close of scripture, 
our Saviour testifies to every man, that 'if any should add to these things, God 
would add to him the plagues written in this book. And if any should take away 
from this book, God would take away his part out of the book of life.'® ""See Note 
I, page 36.] We now proceed to show what are 

The properties of scripture as a rule of faith. 

1. A rule, when it is designed for general use, must have the sanction of public 
authority. Thus human laws, by which a nation is to be governed, which are a 
rule to determine the goodness or badness of men's actions, and their desert of re- 
wards or punishments accordingly, must be established by public authority. Even 
so the scripture is a rule of faith, as it contains the divine laws, by which the actions 
of men are to be tried, together with the ground which some have to expect future 
blessedness, and others to fear punishment. 

2. A rule by which we are to judge of the nature, truth, excellency, perfection, 
or imperfection of any thing, must be infallible, or else it is of no use. And as 
such, nothing must be added to, or taken Irom it ; for then it would cease to be a 
perfect rule. Thus it must be a certain and impartial standard, by which things 
are to be tried. Such a rule as this is scripture, as was but now observed. ■ And 
it is an impartial rule, to which, as a standard, all truth and goodness are to be re- 
duced, and by which they are to be measured. ' To the law and to the testimony ; 
if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.'*' 

3. All appeals are to be made to a rule, and controversies to be tried and deter- 
mined by it. Thus the scripture, as it is a rule of faith, is a judge of controversies. 
Whatever diiFerences in sentiment men have about religion, must all be submitted 
to it, and the warrantableness of them tried by it. A stop is to be put to growing 
errors by an appeal to this rule, rather than to coercive power, or to the carnal 
weapons of violence and persecution. Moreover, the judgment we pass on ourselves, 
as being sincere or hypocrites, accepted or rejected of God, is to be formed by com- 
paring our conduct with scripture, as the rule by which we are to try the goodness 
or badness of our state and of our actions. 

z Rom. XV. 4. a 2 Tim. iii. 15, 17. b Psal. xix. 7, 8. c Dent. iv. 2. 

d Gal. i. 8, 9, e Rev. xxii. 18, 19. f Isa. viii. 20. 


4. A rule must have nothing of a different nature set up in competition -with, or 
opposition to it; for that would be to render it useless, and unfit to be the standard 
of truth. Scripture is the only rule of i'aith. No human traditions are to be set 
up as standards of faith in competition with it ; for that would be to suppose it not 
a perfect rule. This the papists do ; and therefore may be charged, as the Phar- 
isees were of old by our Saviour, with ' transgressing and making the command- 
ment of none effect, by their tradition,'^ 'vainly worshipping God, teaching for 
doctrines the commandments of men.'s What is such casting of contempt on the 
rule of faith which God hath given, but to reflect on his wisdom, and affront his 
authority and sovereignty? 

Tradition not a rule of faith. 

Having considered scripture as a rule of faith and obedience, we farther observe 
that it is the only rule in opposition to the popish doctrine of human traditions, 
which are pretended to be of equal authority with the word of God. By means of 
this doctrine the law of God is made v^ at this day, as it was by the Jews in our 
Saviour's time ; and the scripture supposed to be an imperfect rule, the defects of 
which are to be supplied by traditions. 

1. The doctrine is attempted to be defended from the passage in which our Saviour 
is said to have done 'many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are 
not written •,''^ from his own words, in which he tells his disciples that he ' had many 
things to say unto them which they could not then bear ; '^ and from the words of 
the apostle Paul, in which he puts the church in mind of a saying of our Saviour, 
received by tradition, because not contained in any of the Evangelists, — ' It is more 
blessed to give than to receive.'^ 

To this argument it may be replied, 1. That though there were many things 
done, and words spoken by our Saviour, which are not recorded in scripture, and 
which we must be content not to know, being satisfied with this, that nothing is 
omitted which is necessary to salvation ; yet to pretend to recover or transmit them 
by tradition, is merely to assert, and not to prove, the doctrine at issue. 2. Those 
things which our Saviour had to say, which he did not before his death impart to 
his disciples because they were not able to bear them, respected, as is more than 
probable, what he designed to discover to them after his resurrection, during his 
forty days abode on earth, or by his Spirit, after his ascension into heaven ; and 
were such as concerned the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day 
of the week, the abolition of the ceremonial law, the spirituality of his kingdom, 
and matters relating to the success of their ministry, the gathering and governing 
of those churches which should be planted by them. These, which the apostles were 
less able to bear while our Lord's personal ministry continued than afterwards, 
seem to be the things intended ; and not those doctrines which the papists trans- 
mit by oral tradition, — such as the use of oil and spittle together with water, and 
the sign of the cross in baptism, the baptism of bells, the lighting up of candles in 
churches at noonday, purgatory, praying for the dead, and giving divine adoration 
to images or relics, — doctrines which are altogether unscriptural, and such as he would 
not have, at any time, communicated unto them. 3. Though these words of our 
Saviour, ' It is more blessed to give than to receive,' are not contained in one dis- 
tinct proposition, or in express words, in the gospels ; yet he therein exhorts his peo- 
ple to 'give to him that asketh,' and speaks of the blessing that attends this duty, ' that 
they might be,' that is, approve themselves to be, 'the children of their Father,'' and 
exhorts them to hospitality * to the poor, ' and adds a ' blessing ' to it. "^ But even 
supposing the apostle refers to a saying frequently used by our Saviour, which 
might then be remembered by sonie who had conversed with him ; this is no suffi- 
cient warrant for any one to advance doctrines, contrary to those our Saviour de- 
livered, under a pretence of having received them by unwritten tradition. [See 
Note K, p. 3G.] 

f Matt. XV. 3. G. p Verse 9. h John xx. 30. i John xvi. 12. k Acts xx. 35. 

1 Matt. V. 4"2. compared with 45. m Luke xiv. 12 — 14. 


2. The doctrine of the papists is further defended from the words of the apostle, 
in which he advises Timothy to ' keep that which was committed to his trust,'" as 
if they had been traditions which he was to remember and communicate to others ; 
and also from the advice he gives to the church at Thessalonica, to ' hold the tradi- 
tions which they had been taught, either by word or by his epistle,' °— the former, 
say they, being unwritten traditions, the latter his inspired writings. 

We reply, that what was committed to Timothy to keep, was either ' the form of 
sound words,' or the gospel, which he was to 'hold fast ; 'p or the ministry which 
he had received of the Lord ; or those gifts and graces which were communicated 
to him, to fit him for public service. [See Note L, p. 37.] And as for the tra- 
ditions which he speaks of to the Thessalonians, his meaning is, that they should 
remember not only the doctrines they had received from him, which were con- 
tained in his inspired epistles, but those also which, being agreeable to scripture, 
he had imparted in the exercise of his public ministry, — the former to be depended 
upon as an infallible rule of faith, the latter to be retained and improved as agree- 
able to that rule, and no further. [See Note M, p. 37.] 

3. The papists further add, tliat it was by means of tradition that God instructed 
his church for above two thousand years before the scripture was committed to 

To this it may be replied, that God communicated his mind and will during that 
interval, in an extraordinary manner, as has been before observed ; i and this can- 
not be said of any of those traditions which are pleaded for by them. 

4. It is further argued, that ' the book of the law ' was formerly lost in Josiah's 
time ; for it is said that when it was found, and a part of it read to him, ' he rent 
his clothes,' and was astonished, as though he had never read it before.^ Yet he be- 
ing a good man, was well-instructed in the doctrines of religion ; and he must there- 
fore have been instructed by tradition. 

To this it may be answered, that though the book which was then found was 
doubtless an original manuscript of scripture, either of all the books of Moses or 
of Deuteronomy in particular ; yet it is not to be supposed that he had never read 
the scriptures before. A person may be affected at one time in reading a por- 
tion of the word of God, which he has often read without impression. And doubt- 
less, there were many copies of scripture transcribed, by which Josiah was made 
acquainted with the doctrines of religion, without learning them from uncertain 
traditions. [See Note N, p. 37.] 

5. The papists further allege, that some books of the Old Testament are lost, and 
that their place must be supplied by traditions. The instances they give are of 
some books referred to in scripture, namely, *the book of the wars of the Lord,'® 
'the book of Jasher,'* 'the book of the acts of Solomon,'" and also his 'songs' and 
'proverbs,' and the account he gives of 'trees, plants, beasts, fowls, creeping 
things, and fishes.''' There are also books said to be written by ' Samuel, Nathan, 
and Gad,'y the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and tlie visions of Iddo the seer.^ 
Likewise Jeremiah's lamentation for Josiah is said to be written in the book of 
the Lamentations ;* whereas there is no mention of Josiah in that book of scrip- 
ture ; and it is alleged that there was some other book called by the same name, 
which was written by Jeremiah, but is now lost. 

As to the argument in general, that "some books of scripture are lost, suppose we 
should take it for granted that they are so, must this loss be supplied by traditions, 
pretended to be divine, though without sufficient proof? I am not willing, however, 
to make this concession. Some protestant divines, indeed, have made it, — thinking 
it equally supposable that some books written by divine inspiration might be lost, as 
that many words spoken by the same inspiration have been so. Yet even these con- 
stantly maintain, that whatever inspired writings may have been lost, there is no 
doctrine necessary to the edification of the church, in what immediately relates 
to salvation, but is contained in those writings which are preserved by the care 

I) 1 Tim. vi. 20. o 2 Thess. ii. 15. p 2 Tim. i. 13. q See Ante p. 25. 

r2 Kings xxii. 8 — 11. s Numb. xxi. 14. t 2 Sam. i. 18. compared with Joshua x. 13. 

u 1 Kings xi. 41. x 1 Kings iv. 32, 33. y I Chron. xxix. 29. z 2 Chroii. ix. 29. 

a 2 Chron. xxxv. 25. 


and goodness of pi'ovidcnce, to this da}-. I adhere, however, to the more commonlj 
received opinion, that no book, designed to be a part of the canon of scripture, is 
lost, though many uninspired writings have perished. And as to the books of 
Jasher, Nathan, &c., they might be books or parts of books of scripture, the in- 
spired writers of which are not mentioned, and which, as is more than probable, 
were written by noted prophets who flourished in the church at the periods when 
they were respectively composed. Hence some persons suppose that the books of 
Nathan and Gad, or Iddo, are those of Kings or Chronicles, which are not lost. 
But since this is only a probable conjecture, we pass it over, and add, that it is 
not unreasonable to suppose that the books in question, as also those of Solomon 
which are not contained in scripture, were not written by divine inspiration, This 
is not only a safe but a sufficient answer to the objection. As for Jeremiah's la- 
mentation for Josiah, it is probable that the book of scripture, which goes under 
that name, was written on the occasion of Josiah's death ; and though the prophet 
doth not mention in it the name of that good king, yet he laments the desolating 
judgments which were to follow soon after his death. 

G. The papists pretend also that some part of the New Testament is lost ; par- 
ticularly the 'epistle from Laodicea,' mentioned in Coloss. iv. IG, — one written 
to the Corinthians, 'not to company with fornicators, ''' and another mentioned in 
2 Cor. vii. 8. by which Paul made the Corinthians sorry. 

As to the epistle from Laodicea, that was probably one of his inspired epistles, 
written by him when at Laodicea, and not directed, as is pretended, to the 
Laodiceans. As to the epistle which he is supposed to have written to the 
Corinthians ' not to company with fornicators, ' it is not said to be an epistle which 
he had written to them before, but is plainly intimated to be the epistle which he 
was then writing to them, a part of which, '^ and particularly the immediate context, 
related to the subject of keeping company with fornicators. And as to the letter 
which he wrote to them, 'which made them sorry,' it is not necessary to suppose 
that it was written by divine inspiration ; for as every thing he delivered by word of 
mouth, was not by the extraordinary afflatus of the Holy Ghost, why may we not 
suppose that there were several epistles written by him to the churches, some to 
comfort, others to admonish, reprove, or make them sorry, besides those that he was 
inspired to write ? 

The completeness and purity of the canon of scripture. 

Having replied to the arguments brought to prove that some books of scripture 
are lost, we shall now prove, by direct evidence, that we have the canon complete 
and entire. Some think that the integrity of the canon is sufficiently evident from 
what our Saviour says, ' Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shaU 
not pass from the law ;''^ and ' it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for 
one tittle of the law to fail.'® If God will take care of every jot and tittle of scrip- 
ture, will he not take care that no whole book, designed to be a part of the rule of 
faith, should be entirely lost ? It is objected, indeed, that our Saviour intends 
principally the doctrines or precepts contained in the law ; but if the subject-matter 
shall not be lost, surely the scripture that contains it shall be preserved entire. 
This will more evidently appear, if we consider that the books of the Old Testament 
were complete in our Saviour's time. It is said that 'beginning at Moses, and all 
the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning 
himself.'^ The apostle also says, 'Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were 
written for our learning ;S and it is impossible that they should have been written 
for our learning if they are lost. Consider, likewise, the goodness of God, and the 
care of his providence, with respect to his church ; if he gave them ground to con- 
clude, that 'he would be with them always, even to the end of the world,' surely 
he would preserve from all the injuries of time, the rule he had given them to walk 
by, so that it should not be lost to the end of the world. Again, the Jews who were 

b 1 Cor. V. 9. c See verse 12, I Cor. v. A Matt. v. 18. 

e Luke xvi. 17. f Luke xxiv. 27. g Rom. xv. 4. 


the keepers of the oracles of (jSod,'^ are not reproved bj our Saviour, or the apos- 
tle Paul, for any unfaithfulness in not preserving them entire. An<l certainly our 
Saviour, when he reproves them for making void the law hy their traditions, and 
threatens those that should add to or take from it, would have severely reproved 
them for so great breach of trust, if he had found them faulty, in not having faitiifully 
preserved all the scriptures committed to them. 

Some persons object against the scripture being a perfect rule of faith, that it is 
in several places corrupted. They say that the Old Testament was corrupted by the 
Jews, out of malice against our Saviour and the Christian religion, in order that they 
n:jight conceal or pervert some prophecies relating to the Messiah and the gospel- 
state. And as to the New Testament, they pretend that it was corrupted by some 
hereti s, in defence of their perverse doctrines. We reply that, 

1. As to the Old Testament, it is very improbable and unreasonable to suppose 
that it was coiTupted by the Jews. Before our Saviour's time, no valuable end could 
be answered by their corrupting it ; for then they expected the Messiah to come, 
according to what was foretold by the prophets, and understood their predictions 
in a true sense. And even after he had come, and Christianity was established in 
the world, however malice might prompt them, they would not dare to corrupt 
the scripture ; for they had been trained up in the notion, that it was the vilest crime 
to add to, take from, or alter the word of God. One of their own writers ' says con- 
cerning them, that they would rather die an hundred deaths than suffer the law to 
be changed in any instance. Yea, they have such a veneration for the law, that 
if, by any accident, part of it should fall to the ground, they would proclaim a fast, 
fearing that for this, God would destroy the world, and reduce it to its original 
chaos. And can any one think, that, under any pretence whatever, they would 
designedly corrupt the Old Testament ? Yea, they were so far from doing it, that 
they took care, to the greatest and even superstitious extent, to prevent its being 
corrupted through inadvertency ; and, accordingly, they numbei'ed not only the 
books and sections, but even the words and letters, that not a single letter might 
be added to, or taken Irom it. But even if they had had any inclination to corrupt 
the Old Testament out of malice against Christianity, they could not have succeed- 
ed after our Saviour's time ; for the Old Testament was then translated into Greek, 
and was in the hands of almost all Christians ; so that any attempt to corrupt it 
would soon have been detected. Had they altered some copies of the Hebrew bible, 
they could not have altered all ; and would only have exposed themselves to no 
purpose. Nor would it have been for their own advantage to pervert the scripture, 
for, by altering the texts which make for Christianity, they would have weakened 
their own cause ; and, if their fraud had beeu detected, the reputation of scripture 
would have beeu so lost that they could not have advantageously made use of it to 
prove their own religion. Besides, no alleged instances are given of the Old Testa- 
ment having been corrupted, except in two or three words which do not much aftect 
the cause of Christianity ; whereas, if the Jews had designed to pervert it, why did 
they not alter the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and many other scriptures, which. 
60 plainly speak of the person and offices of the Messiah ? 

2. As to the other part of the objection, that the New Testament hath been cor- 
rupted by heretics since our Saviour's time, — though the Arians and some others 
may have left out some words or verses which tend to overthrow their scheme, thej. 
were never able, even when the empire was most favourable to their cause, to alter 
> all the copies ; and whatever alterations they made have been detected and amend- 
ed. As for th^ various readings that there are of the same text, these consist 
principally in literal alterations, which do not much affect the sense. It was next 
to impossible lor so many copies of scripture to be transcribed, without some mis- 
takes ; since they who transcribed them were not under the infallible direction of 
the Spirit of God, as the first penmen were. Yet the providence of God hath not 
Buffered them to make notorious mistakes ; and whatever mistakes are found in one 
copy, may be corrected by another. The scripture therefore is not, on account of 
these various readings, to be treated as though it were not a perfect rule of faith. 

h Rom. iii. 2. i Vid. Philo. Jiui. de Vit. Mosis ; et eund. citat. ab Euseb. in Prep. 

Evang. 1. viii. c. 6. et Jos.' ph. contr. App. 1. ii. 
I. £ 


fNOTE H. The Old and New Testament. — The Hebrew word ri'ia means a constitution, nn eco- 
nomy, or a system of promise, established or confirmed by sacrifice. In the multitudinous pns-^ages in 
which it occurs, the Septuagint uniformly translates it by the word ?iai)»x») ; though, haii the usage 
of the Greek classical authors been followed, it would have been tianslated by the word ffu\^nxvi. If 
the sense of these authors be allowed, S/a^oxji means a testament; and, it that of the Septtiagiut be 
followed, it means the same as the word n*~l3- The inspired writers of the new economy, in every 
instance in which Hebraistic Greek and classical Greek differed, adopted the former. They addressed 
themselves, in the first instance, to Jews; they employed that Greek which had been naturalized 
in the expression of the Jeuish theolog'y ; they wrote, as to idioms and pliraseology, in the liglit of 
the Septuagint. A;aS>jx>i, therefore, possesses, throughout both the old and the new scriptures, 
the signification and force of the Hebrew n*"l3, and ought to have lieen everywhere in our version 
translated by the word 'covenant.' But of the very numerous passages in which it occurs, there 
are four — "2 Cor. iii. l(i; Heli. vii. 22; Heb. ix. 15 — 20'; and the account of the institution of the 
Lord's Supper — in which it is translated 'testament.* There is no warrant, however, eitlier in the 
passages themselves, or in the analogy of fiith to the idea of a testament, for departing from the 
usual meaning, and substituting this word. A testament, eveti with the ingenious glosses and 
constructions suggested by Dr. Ridgeley, expresses imtions utterly incongruous with scriptural 
views either of the word of God or of the divine covenants. 

As to the new covenant, or covenant of grace, in what just sense can it be called 'the declared or 
written will of Christ?' Like every other covenant — or system of promise confirmed by sacrifice — 
it has a dispenser by whom its promises are made, and a sacrificial victim by \vhose death its validity 
is established. But God is the dispenser- Christ is the sacrificial victim. A covenant — consisting, 
as it does, not of bequests to be executed by another, but of promises to be fulfilled by himself — 
cannot be called a testament in reference even to the dispenser: hosv mucli less, then, in reference to 
the sacrifice? If, too, Christ was a testator, and if he died to give validity to his testament, he needed 
to remain in a state ot death That a living person should execute his own testament, or dispense 
the boons w hich he had himself bequeathed, is an idea repugnant to the very nature of a testamentary 
transaction. The analogy, it may be said, do. s not hold in all particulars; but does it hold in any? 
The blessings of the new covenant are not property apart from the Deity, and bequeathed to future 
possessors: they are acts of the divine love, performed by the divine agency on the persons and hearts 
of the saved. The economy of dispensing them is not a declaration of will on the part of one person, 
and the execution of that declaration on the part of another, but a manifestation of mercy from first 
to last on the part of one God. The blessings do not pass from Deity as their present possessor, to 
be enjoyed by believers as the heirs of his property, but are gifts of his favour bestowed on them 
as ransomed captives, — as ' the purchased possession' of the Saviour. The new covenant, view it 
as we may, whether in reference to God as dispensing it, to the sacrifice of Christ as establishing 
it, to the nature of its blessings, or to the character and position of its objects, is, in all respects, a 
system of sovereign promise rendered right and practicable by the work of atonement. But what 
idea of sovereign promise, what idea of substitution, of mediation, of redemption by sacrifice, will 
comport with the notion of ' a person's declared and written will?' 

As to the old covenant, what is it ? — ' the covenant of works," or the covenant at Sinai ? If the 
former, neither the word covenant, nor the word testament, nor any word or phrase of meaning similar 
to either, is applied to it in scripture. The Adamic dispensation, as we may in a future note have 
occasion to show, rested on no basis, and possessed no properties, of the nature of a covenant, and 
still less of tlie nature of testamentary bequest. All the parts of scripture, such as the Epistle to 
the Hebrews^, the Epistle to the Galatiar.s, chap. iv. 24, and various passages in the prophets, 
which mention or contrast ' the old covenant' and 'the new,' distinctly identify the former with 
the transaction at Sinai. Now the Sinaitic covenant, or Mosaic law, so" far from being a bequest 
of property to heirs, was a legislative enactment to subjects ; it spoke the language, not of a 
testator, but of a king and lawgiver; it addressed men, not as legatees who should at a future 
period receive what was then enjoyed by another, but as persons who might rebel, and should 
become amenable to punishment; it was established or confirmed, not by the death ot him who 
gave it, but by the institution of a multiform ritual of typical sacrifice; it was, on the one hand, 
given and dispensed by Jehovah, as King of Israel, and was, on the other, received and obeyed 
through the sacrificial slaughter of bulls and of goats. Both the old covenant, and the new like- 
wise, were sovereign appointments, resting on God's authority as man's Creator and Judge, and 
solemnly enforced by penal sanctions. Men might not refuse the Sinaitic covenant, or disobey any 
, of its injunctions, but at their peril; and still less may they despise or reject the covenant ot grace, 
without incurring destruction. ' He that despised Moses' law died wiUiout mercy, under tuo or 
three witnesses: of how much sorer pumshment, suppose ye. shall he be thought worthy, who hath 
trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, whereliy atone- 
ment was made, a common thing?' Heb. ix. 28, 29. The clause rendered, in the anthonzed version, 
'wherewith he was sanctified,' is iv «i hyiar^n. The verb a.ytaZ,u retains throughout the Epistle to 
the Hebrews its ritual signification, and means 'to atone.' See ii. lU; ix. 18; x. lU, 14. In x. 
10, as in the present passage, the verb is in the passive voice, riyiecir/niyoi tirftiv, ' We have had expia- 
tion made for us through the offering of the body ot Jesus Christ.' The phrase m u 'nyiaa^n, there- 
fore, ought to be translated ' whereby atonement was made for him,' or ' whereby he was atoned for.' 
"With no propriety, then, even w ith the utmost stretching and accommodation ot metaphor, can either 
the old or the new covenant be called a testament. 

There is just one passage which appears to militate against our conclusion, and it is grievously 
distorted by mistranslation : ' And for this cause, he is the mediator of the new testament, that by 
means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they 
which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is.'there 


must al?o, of necessity, be the death of the testator. For a testnmotit is of force after men ure 
dead; otherwise it is of tio strenptli at all while the testator livi-tli. WliiMeupon, iieitlier the tiist 
testament was dedicated without lilood.' lleh. i.\. 15 — 18. 'I'his passaf^'e lies in the centre of u 
consecutive and closely cotiipacted argument, extending from the cornniencenient of the eifjiith 
chapter to the eiphteenth verse of the tenth. Both in the early parts of the argument, and toward 
th<' close, viii. 6, 8 — 10; ix. 4; x. 16, the same word occurs which is here rendered 'testament.' 
liaBtixn; and, in these places, it is, as it ought to he, uniformly translated 'covenant.' If it 
mean 'testament' in one p^irt of the argument, it must mean so throughout. But what must he 
thought of the phrases, ' the mediator of a better testament,' ' the first testament had ordinances 
of divine service and a worldly sanctuary,' 'the ark of the testament laid round ahoiit with gold?' 
Does a bequeathing of property require or admit the services of a mediator? or was such a transac- 
tion connected with the ceremonial of the Jewish sanctuary, or cliaracteristic of the ark surmounted 
by the mercy-seat? From begintiing to end of the argument, haS^rixti has clearly its ordinary mean- 
ing of ' covenant ;' and, indeed, in several passages (viii. 8. 10; x. 16.), occurs in quotations from 
the Septuagint, and. through that medium, is identified with the tiebiew word n"12. In the sense 
of a constitutio!! confirmed hy sacrifice, it forms the pivot on which the whole of the apostle's argu- 
ment turns. It, and the word rendered 'testator,' are derived from the same root, and emljody the 
same leading idea. AiaBtfuyo; is not a noun, hut a participle, or a participial adjective; and, neces- 
sarily having an understood noun in regimen with it, denotes the covenatiting, or covenant-conform- 
ing vi( tim. The same noun which is understood with it ought clearly to have the place, in the 
phrase 'after men are dead,' which our translators give to the word 'men.' That phrase, («•< 
yiK^ois, is literally, ' upon, or over dead;' and, alotig with the understood noun, is 'over dead vic- 
tims.' The entn-e passage, therefore, ought to be translated thus: * And for this cause he is the 
mediator of the new covenant, that hy mi^ans of death for the redemption of the transgressions under 
the first covenant, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where 
there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the covenant-confirming victiu) ; because 
a covenant is confirmed over dead victims, since it is not at all valid while the covenant-confirmmg 
victim liveth. "Whereupon neither the first covenant was solemnized without blood.' That this is 
the true translation, or at least exhibits the true sense of the passage, is evident fiom what follows: 
* For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the law, he took the 
blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet- wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the hook 
and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined to you.' 
These words are so consecutive with what preceded them, that the 'calves' and the 'goats' are 
clearly the 'covenant-confirming, or dead victims' of the covenant. But were calves and goats 
'testators?' I shall add the very apposite and luminous remarks of M-Knight on the passage: 
" The things affirmed iti the common translation concerning the new testament, namely, that it 
has a mediator, that that mediator is the testator himself, that there were transgressions of a former 
testament, for the redemption of which the mediator of the new testament died, and that the first 
testament was made, by sprinkling the people in whose favour it was made with blood, — are all 
things quite foreign to a testament. For was it ever known in any nation that a testament needed 
a mediator? or that the testator was the mediator of his o«n testament? or that it was necessary 
the testator of a new testament should die to redeem the transgressions of a former testament? or 
that any testament was ever made by sprinkling the legatees with blood? These things, houever, 
were usual in covenants. They had mediators who assisted at the making of them, and were sure- 
ties for the performance of them. They were commonly ratified by sacrifices, the blood of w hich 
was sprinkled on the parties; withal, if any former covenant was infringed by the parties, satisfac- 
tion was given at the making of a second covenant. By calling Christ ' the mediator of the new 
testament,' our thoughts are turned away entirely fioin the view w hich the scriptures give us of his 
death as a sacrifice for sin; whereas, if he is called 'the mediator of the new covenant,' which is 
the true translation of S/a^»)*«s xaivtii fitrir^is, that appellation directly suggests to us that the new 
covenant was procured and ratified by his death as a sacrifice for sin." 

As to applying the name 'old and new testaments' to the scriptures, the only text which appears 
to sanction it is, like that in Hebrews, disfigured by mistranslation of the word haBriKn. When 
rightly translated, it reads thus : ' Who bath made us able ministers of the new covenant;' ' Until 
this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old covenant,' 2 Cor. iii. 6, 14. 
The first part of it seems to refer, not to the scriptures, but to the great doctrines of the new- 
dispensation, — those v\hich announce the ratification of the covenant of redemption; and the second 
part of it does not necessarily refer to more of the Jewish scriptures, than those portions of them 
which exhibit the covenant made at Sinai. But though the name 'old and new covenants' \> eie 
given, as it may not improperly he, to the entire scriptures of the Mosaic and the Christian dispen- 
sations, it would simply be an instance of the common metonuny which gives the name of a trans- 
action to the document which records it. The Jewish scriptures are the old covenant, merely as 
exhibiting the covenant made at Sinai, and the apostolic scriptures are the new covenant, merely as 
exhibiting the covenant of grace. 

The scriptures are in no sense testaments. To remove absurdity from the idea of their being so. 
Dr. Ridgeley is obliged to treat them, not as two testaments, hut as one. He is also forced into 
the inconsistency of representing this at one time as the testament of Deity, and at another as the 
testament of the mediator. Scripture, according to its own account, is a 'law,' — a sjistem of 
'statutes,' 'ordinances,' 'oracles,' — 'a record,' 'a testimony,' 'a word,' or diseouiso. As pro- 
ceeding from God, it is the statute-book and oracle of the supreme lawgiver and guide; as pro- 
ceeding from the mediator, it is the record of the 'faithful and true witness;' as jointly revealing 
the divine character and will, and describing the work of redemption, it is 'the word of God and 
the testimony of Jesus Christ.' But a testimony, a statute-book, a supernatural communication', 
are ideas widely alien from that of a testament. 


Dr. Rifig.ley not only calls scripture n testament, but shvs tliat ' Christ ntitieil it bv his death.' 
Scri|ilure, however, (iiil not need ralifiiMtion. The offering' ot a divinely qualified sacrifice was 
iieci'ssirv in order (o ih i)estoxv;il otthe blosiiig:^ ot the everlastinf? coven uit; but was not needed 
in order to the revelat on of the divine will. All scripture, inde.-d, points to Christ, and receives 
its import from his m diatoricil work; but if. for this reason, it was ratified liy his death, it must, on 
the -Huie principle, have been raiiti (1 b\ all the events which it r. cords, and particuiaily by the 
fulfilment of the pioplieci.s which it cnnlains. Scripture would not b: true it Christ had not di.d; 
but neither would it lie true if Cvrus, or Aniinhu-; Kpphanes. or any oth. r jierson described in its 
propli cies. had not acted as it foreioid. C\\\\^t fuljiUtd s ripture, but did not ratily it: he verified 
ids testimony, and ratified the divme covenant. 

Dr. Ridg'ley speaks, like^iise, of the seals am. ex d to scripture as a testament. But in what 
sense, or iiy w'hat stretch of meta|)lior, can " the saeraiiieiis under the old and new teslarnent' be 
said to secil the word of God?. The only saerament called a ' s al ' is circumcision; and it is 
declared to have been, not a seal of divine revebition. but • a seal of the r gliteousness of the faith 
whii-li Abraham had, yet b.iiifr uncircuincised,' Rom. iv. 11. We read of the Father having sealed 
the Son, John vi. 27; of believers being sealed bv the Holy Spirit. Eph. i 13; i v. 30; of the ser- 
vants of Go<l being seale<i on their foreheads. Rev. \ii. 2 — 4; ol the converted Corinthians having 
been seals of Paul's apostleship, 1 Cor. ix. 2; of transgression being scab d. Job xiv. 17 i of the 
Loni's kno>\ ledge of his people being a seal that they are his, 2 Tim. ii. 19; and of believers, by 
their piacdeal exhibition of the truth of ('lirisii iniiy, setting to tlieir seal that God is true, John 
iii. 3."i, — but where have we evm a liint that 'the sacraments' seal the divine word? It, in any 
due sense of the metaphor, scripture was ever sealed, its se.ils are tlie veritii-ation of its doctrines 
ill ine experience of converted sinners, the fullilineut of its prophecies, and the miracles which 
attenileu Us first iiromul^ation. 

Tlie name • Old and Nevi Testament' has been so long in general use as a designation of scripture, 
that it will proliably remain wliile tiie English language enuures As conveniently distinguishing 
the scriptures of the former dispensation Iroiu those of the (ir. sent, it ought to gi^e place to the 
significant desifjnatiou, ' tiie old and ne v coveiiiint;' though, if useu simply (or sake of distinction, 
and vwy, like the woid ' Bible,' as a conventional title, il cannot do much harm. The sting of its 
impropiiety consists in ascribing to the divine uord the properties and accidents of a testamentary 
document, and, pariicul irly. in iimirectly identilying the s>ime properties and accidents with the 
covenant of redemption. Whoever u>es the word 'testament' to designate sciipture, should take 
care that tlie ideas of tesiaiorslii(), legateeship, and teslanientary sealing and raiilication, he not 
associated with the notion either of divine revelation, or of the covenant of grace. — El).] 

[Note I. T/ie Sufficunaj af Scripture. — Dr. Riugeley rather misses the po nt of his last argument. 
The passage in Deuieronoun declares the completeness of the Mosaic la.\, as the ceremonial, judi- 
cial, and moral code ot the Jewish (iis|)ensation ; and the passage in Revelation declares the com« 
pleieness of tht; canon, or ol the entire scriptures, as a permanent i ule of faitli to man. Aiiditioiial 
to tlie arguments adduced by Dr. R., the >iiiliciency of scripluie may be proved from its being a 
work ot God, ami, like every other work of his, periect in its kind, — from, its fitness to produce f'aiih, 
Lope, spiritual worship, saving know Udgf-, and all the other practical ends id a revelation, — Iroin 
the multiplicity, variety, and minutenes? ol its illustrations of leading doctrines and duties, — from 
the adaptation ot its lessons to all possdde diversities of human cliaraeter, experience, and condition, 
— and from such declarations as these: • All scripture is given by inspiration ol God, and is profit- 
able tor doctrine, for reproof, tor correction, for instruction in, that the man of God 
niav be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,' 2 Tim. in. 10, 17. ' Bind up the testi- 
mony, seal the law, among my disciples. To the law and to the testimoii}, it they speak not accord- 
ing to this word, it is because there is no light in them,' Isa. viii. 16, 2U. 'These were more nohle 
than those in Thessalouica, in that they searched Uie scriptures dail., whether those things were so,' 
Acts xvii. II. ' They have Moses and the prophets, let ihem hsar them. If they hear not Moses 
and the prophets, neither will the_) be persuaued, though one rose Iroin the dead,' Luke xvi. 29, 
SI.— Ed.] 

[Note K. Unwritten sayings of Christ. — The only point sought to be proved here by the Roman- 
ists IS, that there were sayings of Chiist, remembered by his immediate disciples, which uere not 
committed to writing; and this point is not denied, nor does it, in am resjiect, couiaenaiue the 
doctrine of tradition, or militate against the suflicieney of scripture. John expressly says, * 'I'here 
are n.any other tilings which Jesus did,' savings, doulitless, which he spoke, as well as deei.s which 
he performed, ' the which, if they sliould be written every one, 1 suppose that even the woiid itself 
could not contain the books that should lie writt n ;' but he irnmediaiely adds, ' But these' — tnesa 
which have been sele ted and recorded by inspiraiion — 'are wri;teii, that ye might believe ihat 
Jesus is the Christ, the Son ot God, and that believing ye might have lite through his name,' Jonn xxi. 
25; XX. 31. <.)nly such sayings as are written, therefore, are our guiue in beiieiing, or I'oi m pait of 
our rule of faith; and these are so suHicient, so perfect, lor every purpose ol religion, that iiie laith 
of them involves spiritual and eternal life. The uiuvrilten sa_yings were, tor tiie mosi pan, sueh 
as had been spoken in a private capacity to individuals,— such, (or exain|ile, as liad been spoken 
previous to the commencement of his public ministry, or such as resciiiided ilie many inspired but 
merely oral messages, which the prophets delivered to kings; and the_, all were <oiisentaneous v»ith 
those which were written, and, however varied in language and illustration, coniained at lea.^t no 
separate or additional point of faith. They, hence, toere not meant lor the >vorld; »j/Js aura* 011*0,1 rot 
xerjjiot x^i^'"^' ''" y^n^'l^i^osi fiifiXia, ' I think that the world could not receive,' ua ing to their not being 
adapted to It, 'the nooks w Inch should be writien.' 0«;^»ijs/» has clearly the sense of not rec.ivnig 111 
consequence of non-adaptation. ' His disciples say unto uiru, it the case ot a man ne so w itii Ins >> de, 
itis nut good to marry. But he said unto iheiiv, All merr cannui receive thissujin^,' »uirtctris x'^fovri rn 


Aiiyav rouToy, ' liiit tin v to «hom it is pivcii ; for tliere are some eunuchs,' &c., Mattli. xi.\. 10 — ^2. 
♦The world loiild not receive the hooks,' strictly means, therefore, 'the hooks should not he fitted 
or iidapted for the world;' — the sayings which they should record were either so personal to the iiidi- 
Ti(lu:ils to whom thev were spoken, or so liuiited in range, compared with savings of the sam<' import 
whicfi are recorded, as to he iinsuired to the general or varied capacity of the numerous cla^s s of 
readers. If. too, they could not. on account of their numher and hulkiness, he committed to wric- 
iiiii, thev could still less be t-athered and iianded down by tradition. As to the particular saying, 
*lt is more blessed to give than to receive,' though not found in the gosjjels, it is found in scriptnri.'; 
and it can be made a warrant for receiving other all< ged sayings of (.'hrist, only on the supposition they too have been recor<led by inspiration. The argument, view it as we may, disproves the 
doctrine of tradition, and jitfirms the sole autliority of the written word. — Ed.] 

[Note L. The Foim of Sound Words What the 'form of sound words' was. is not stated by 

Dr. llidgeley. It is made to mean 'tradition' by Romanists, and *a formal creed,' by the advocates 
of tixed human standards of faitli. Another passage which speaks of "a form,' — a 'form of <loctrine,' 
aTid w hich also the Roinainsts quote as a sanction to tradition, contains decided evidence as to what 
the foini wiis: ' Ye have ol)e\ed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you,' 
Rom. vi. 17. This passige, lightly translated, reads: 'Ye have obeyed from the heart that mould 
of coctriii.' into which ye were cast, or delivereii.' The word Twot inems such a mould or die as 
imparts shape and impression to melted metal; and, as occurring in the phrase m iv ^rajsSa^jjTS rvira* 
'iilax*!!, it describes the gospel, or those truths which had been believed by the Christian converts, 
as a die into which their hearts had been cast, and which had imparted to them an impress of the 
image and superscription of God. The word vxorwurif, as appears frou) its derivation, and from 
its conventional use, is analogous. Timothy had received 'a moulding of sound words:' he had 
learned from scripture, and hearil from the apostle Paul, doctrines which made distinct delineations 
oii the mind, and stamped dt finite impressions on the heart: he had come in contact with the gospel, 
not as with a suiistance which conveyed only confused marks of contact, or no marks whatever, but 
as with one which impressed *a moulding,' a hgible representation, a well-delihented picture or plan 
of excellence on the character. How different is this 'moulding of sound words' from the idea either 
of a formal creed, or of authoritative oral tradition! 

' That which was conimiifed to Timothv's trust,' is simply the opposite of 'profane and vain 
babblings, and oppo-itioiis of science, falselv so called.' Paul reminds him that he had 'professed a 
goo<l piotession before manv witnesses;' he bids liim 'fight the good fight of faith,' and charges him 
to 'k.ep this commjiuimeiit witiiont spot,' 1 Tim. vi. 12, 14; and now, in opposition to profane and 
vain babblings, and the illusions of false phiIosophy,'he enjoins him to hold fast what he had professed, 
and continue trustworthy in contending for the truth. — Ed.] 

[NoTK iM. Paul's Tiuditions to the Thessalonians. — Dr. Ridgeley arbitrarily distingui.shes, as to 
their authority, between I'anl's written doctrines, and those of his public ministry. Paul himself 
does not distinguish hetwem I hi 111, but enjoins obedience to both in the same language, and applies 
to both the same epithet. The tbiiigs which he had written; and the things which he had preache<l, 
were 'traditions;' they were matters 'delivered' to. the Thessalonians for the guidance ot their 
faith, but they were ' traditions' they were 'delivered,' simply as conveyed from the writer to the 
reader, or from the speaker to the hearer, not as received from some one anterior to Paul, or as 
committed to the Thessalonians for transmission to future ages, apart from the canon of revelation. 

'I'he ajiostles, in the first instance, all orally taught the tame things which five of their number, 
and three evangelists, afterwards committed to writing. Paul, in the particular case before us, 
communicated bis doctrines to the Thessalonians, first by his personal ministry, and next by ejiistie; 
and he 'taught' them equally b_v what he spoke and by what he wrote. Till the canon ot scripture 
was completed, his discourses were of the same authority as the wiitten word ; and they contained 
just the same matter which became embodied in the apostolic scriptures. He had as )et written 
none of his epistles, except the first to the Thessalonians; he was now writing his second epistle, 
and addressing it to the same piople; he uses the phrase 'oui epistle,' literallv, and with empliasis; 
and, aware how nianv doctrines and facts of the new dispensation remained yet to be penned, he 
enjoins attention equally to the portion of truth which he had taught in person, and to that which he 
had communicated by letter. As vet ti.ere was need for the oral teaching ot the apostles. All 
those facts, and doctrines, and illustrations of the new eionomv, which were afterwards placed 
fixedly before the world in the epistles to the Romans, to the Gaiatians, to the Corinthians, to the 
Hebrews, and, in other books ot the apostolic scriptures, were taught as yet only by oral communi- 
cation ; and, being essential to the edification of believeis and the extension ot Christianity, tliey 
demanded for 'the word ' ol Paul, or ot any of his inspired fellow labourers, the same deference which 
was claimed for his 'epistle,' — for the commencing, and as yet the only portion ot his large contri- 
bution to the canon of the new disjiensation. Such were the 'traditions' which had been delueied 
to the Thessalonians by ' word:' they were in pnfect harmony with the 'traditions by epistle,' and, 
in all respects, identidl with what is now exhibited in the completed scriptures. 

A chief topic of the oral traditions contencied for by the chuicli of Rome is, according to Rellar- 
mine, the character and coming of antichrist. Now this topic is discussed at considerabie length in 
the very epistle in which Paul commands attention to his traditions; and it was afterwards fully 
developed, and held up to view in all its details, in the first epistle to Timothy, in the first epistle 
of John, and in the book ot Revelation. — Ld.] 

[NoTK N. Artjuments ayamst Tradition. — Dr. Ridgelev contents himself with simply repelling 
the Romish arguments in lavour ot the authority ot traditions. He inigiit, howevei, have easily 
adduced many arguments on ihe other side. The Jewish trauitions were condeinneii bv Ciirist, 

Watt. XV. '2 — 9; Mark vii. o — 14 All trauitions which are not echoes of the written word are 

conUtunied by the apostles, Col, ii. t?, lb — 23; Gal, i. U ; Tit. i. 14; 1 Cor. iv. ti — Mecessary 


traditions, or oral Hpostolic instructions, were so ineffective previous to the completion of scrip- 
ture, that, on such important topics as justification, the obligation of the ceremonial law, the right 
observance ol the eucliarist, and the proper use of supernatural gifts, they required to be promptly 
corrected, and displaced by written revelation. Gal. iii. 1 — 6; 1 Cor. vii. xi. xiv; Eph. iv. 14; Rom. 
xvi. 17; Phil. i. 27; iii. 2. — Traditions, even with the help of a race of prophets, and of frequent 
revelation, were inefficient in the ante-iMosaic age; hikI, on the simplest topics of moral duty, as 
well as on matters of doctrine and .uorship, were nt'cessarily supplanted by a written rule of laith 
— Though the Jews, like the Romanists, preten<h d to lioth a written and an unwritten revelation, 
our Lord and his apostles, in all their reasoiiings with them, appealed only to the scriptures, John 

V. 39, 46, 47; Matt. xv. 3, 9 Tradit'ons, as contended lor by Romanists, nowhere exist, — are not 

contained in any depository, — and, in any emergency, or for any purpose of appeal, cannot be found. 

Though the Ciiurch of Rome had possessed traditions, she cannot be trusted (or preserving them; 

for she can give no traditionary expositions of theological or textual difficulties, — she has been 
unable, as is proved by the enormous discreparicies between the Vulgate of Sixtus V. and that of 
Clement VIII-, to preserve even the text of her adopted translation of the scriptures, — she has 
rejected undoubted traditions of early times, such as the threefold application of water in baptism, 
and the giving of the eucharist to infants, — she has maintained the authority of forged doeuu)ents, 
such as tl)e Decretals, the Donation of Constantine, and pseudo-decrees of the first council of Nice, 
— she has widely depaited from some universally-received and orthodox doctrines of the catholic 
church of the early centuries, as on the subjects of purgatory, iruiulgences, half-communion, aiui 
the canon of scripture, — and she has altered and vaiied her pretended traditions, according to her 
caprice, or in order to suit the shifting tastes of society, as in the changes in her Breviary, atul in 
her doctrines respecting the mass-sacrifice, the number of the sacraments, and the Pope's temporal 
power. — Ed.] 


Question. IV. Now doth, it appear that the scriptures are the word of God ? 

Answer. The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God by their majesty and 
purity ; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; 
by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers to 
salvation : but the Spirit of God, bearing witness by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, 
is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God. 

Before we proceed to consider the arguments here brought to prove the scriptures 
to be tlie word of God, some things may be premised [See note 0, p. &2^ respecting 

The nature, necessity, and possibility of revelation. 

1. When we speak of the scriptures as divine, we mean more than that they treat 
of God and divine things, or of his nature and works ; for many human uninspired 
writings, in proportion to the wisdom of their authors, tend to set forth the divine 
perfections. And when we assert that every thing contained in the scriptures is 
infallibly true, we do not deny that there are many things which we receive from 
human testimony, of the truth of which it would be scepticism to entertain the least 
doubt. When we receive a truth from human testimony, however, we judge of it 
by the credibility of the evidence, and, in proportion to this, we fix the degree of 
certainty whicli belongs to it. But when we suppose a truth to be divine, we have 
the highest degree of certainty respecting it, simply because it is the word of him 
that cannot lie. Thus we consider the holy scriptures as of divine origin, or given 
by the inspiration of God ; or as his revealed will, designed to bind the consciences 
of men. And we regard the penmen, not as the inventors of them, but only as the 
instruments made use of to convey them to us. Hence the apostle PetJr says, 
• Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man ; but holy men of God spake 
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost fi' and the apostle Paul says, 'I certify 
unto you, that the gospel, which was preached of me, is not after man ; neither 
received I it of man ; neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. '^ 
The former asserts inspiration concerning scripture in general; and the latter 
asserts it concerning that part which was transmitted to us by him. Such is what 
we mean when we say the scripture is the word of God. 

k 2 Pet. J. 21. 1 Gal. i. 11, 12. 


2. It is necessary for us to know and believe the scriptures to be the word of God. 
They are to be received bj us as a rule of faith and obedience in whatever respects 
divine things ; and if we do not believe them to be the word of God, we are desti- 
tute of a rule, and our religion must be a matter of the greatest uncertainty. And 
as iaith and obedience are a branch of religious worship, they involve an entire 
subjection to God, a tirm and unshaken assent to whatever he reveals as true, and 
a readiness to obey whatever he commands, as being influenced by his authority, — 
all of which are inconsistent with any hesitation or doubt as to the divine origin of 
scripture. Moreover, it is only in the scriptures that we have an account of the 
way in which sinners may have access to God, the terms of their finding acceptance 
in his sight, and all the promises of eternal blessedness on which their hope is found- 
ed ; and if we are not certain that the scriptures are the word of God, our faith 
and hope are vain. It is in the scriptures that ' life and immortality are brought to 
light,''" and by 'searching them, we think that we have eternal life.'"^ 

3. Divine revelation is necessary ; and it is not impossible, or contrary to reason or 
the divine perfections, for God to impart his mind and will to men in the way we 
call inspiration. These points must be made apparent, else it is vain to attempt to 
give arguments to prove the scriptures to be the word of God. And, 

That divine revelation is necessary, appears from this : — as religion is necessary, 
so there are some things contained in it which cannot be known by the light of 
nature, namely, all those divine laws and institutions which are the result of God's 
arbitrary will ; and as these cannot be known by the light of nature, or in a way 
of reasoning derived from it, they must be known by special revelation. Positive 
laws, as opposed to those that are moral, rest on a different foundation from the 
latter ; and the glory of God's sovereignty eminently appears in the one, as that of 
his holiness doth in the other. Now his sovereign pleasure relating to his positive laws 
could never have been known without divine revelation ; and then all that revenue 
of glory, which is brought to him by them, would have been entirely lost, and there 
would have been no instituted worship in the world. The gospel, also, which is 
called ' the unsearchable riches of Christ, '° must have been for ever a hidden thing ; 
and the condition of those who bear the Christian name would have been no better 
than that of the heathen, — concerning whose devotion, the apostle Paul, though 
speaking of the wisest and best of them, says, they ' ignorantly worshipped an un- 
known God,'P and ' the world by wisdom knew not God.'i And the reason is, 
that they were destitute of divine revelation. 

It is not impossible or contrary to reason or the divine perfections, that God 
should reveal his mind and will to man. If it is possible lor one creature to im- 
part his mind and will to another, certainly God can do this ; for there is no ex- 
cellency or perfection in the creature but what is eminently in him. And if it be 
not unworthy of the divine majesty to be omnipresent, and to uphold all things by 
the word of his power, it is not unbecoming his perfections to manifest himself to 
intelligent creatures, who, as such, are fit to receive the discoveries of his mind 
and will. His endowing them with faculties capable of receiving these manifesta- 
tions, also argues, that he designed that they should be favoured with them. 
Whatever displays, therefore, there may be of infinite condescension in the work 
of revealing his character and will, yet it is not unbecoming his perfections to per- 
form it. And as God cannot be at a loss for an expedient how to discover his 
mind and will to man, and is not confined to one certain way ; so he may, if he 
pleases, make it known by inspiration. Nor is there any thing in the subject tliat 
should hinder him from impressing on the minds of men whatever ideas he designs 
to impart. That even a linite spirit can make impressions on the mind, will hardly 
be denied by any but those who, with the Sadducees, deny the nature and power 
of spirits. It follows that God can much more impress the souls of men, or imme- 
diately communicate his mind to them, in the way we call inspiration. To deny 
that there is such a thing as inspiration, is not only to deny the credibility of 
scripture-history, as well as its divine authority, but it is to deny that which the 
heathen, by the light of nature, have universally believed to be consonant to rea- 

* m 2 Tim. i. 10. n John v. 39. o Eph. iii. 8. p Acts xvii. 23. q 1 Cor. i. 24. 


son ; for they often represent their gods as conversing with men, and appear, in 

many of their writings, not to have the least doubt whether there has been such a 
thing as inspiration. 

Proofs that the scriptures are inspired. 

We are now to consider those arguments which are brought to prove the scrip- 
tures to be the word of God, or that they were given by divine inspiration. These 
are of the nature either of internal evidence, taken from the subject-matter of scrip- 
ture, the majesty of the style, the purity of the doctrines, the harmony or consent of 
all tlie parts, and the scope or tendency of the whole to give all glory to God ; or else 
of external, taken from the testimony which God himself gave to inspiration, at 
first by miracles, whereby the mission of the prophets, and consequently what they 
were sent to deliver, was confirmed, and afterwards, in succeeding ages, by the use 
■vrhich he hath made of scripture in convincing and converting sinners, and building 
up bcdievers to salvation. These are the arguments mentioned in this answer, and 
shall be distinctly considered. Some others also shall be added. One shall be 
taken from the character of the inspired writers, that they were holy men, and so 
would not impose on the world, or pretend themselves to have been inspired, if 
they were not, — that they were plain and honest men, void of all craft and subtilty, 
and so could not impose on the world,' — and that even had they attempted any im- 
posture, they had a great many subtle and malicious enemies, who would soon have 
detected it. Another argument shall be taken from the sublimity of the doctrine ; 
in which respect it is too great, and has too much wisdom in it, to have been in- 
vented by men. Others shall be taken from the antiquity of scripture, together 
with its wonderful preservation, notwithstanding all the endeavours of its enemies 
to root it out of the world. We shall then consider how far the testimony of the 
church is to be regarded, not as though it contained the principal foundation of 
our faith, as the papists suppose, but as an evidence additional to those that have 
been before given. And finally, we shall speak something concerning the witness 
of the Spirit with the scripture in the heart of man, which inclines him to be per- 
suaded by, and to rest in, the other arguments brought to support the truth of in- 
spiration. And if all these be taken together, they will, we hope, beget a full 
conviction in the minds of men, that the scriptures are the word of God. 

I. Tlie majesty of the style in which scripture is written. Tiiis argument does 
not hold equally good with respect to all the parts of scripture ; for there are, in 
many places, a great plainness of speech and familiarity of expression adapted 
to the meanest capacity, and sometimes a bare relation of things, without that 
majesty of expression which we find in other places. Thus, in the historical books, 
we do not observe such a loftiness of style, as in Job, Psalms, Isaiah, and some 
others of the prophets ; — although there are arguments of another nature to prove 
them to be of divine authority. We may, however, observe such expressions as 
set forth the sovereignty and greatness of God, interspersed with almost the whole 
scripture ; as when he is i-epresented speaking in a majestic way, tending not only 
to bespeak attention, but to strike those that hear or read witli a reverential fear 
of his divine perfections. Thus when he gives a summons to the whole creation 
to give ear to his words, ' Hear, O heavens ; and give ear, earth, for the Lord 
hath spoken ;'"■ or swears by himself, that 'unto him every knee shall bow, and 
every tongue shall swear ;'® or when it is said, ' Thus saith the Lord, the heaven 
is my throne, and the earth is my footstool ;'* and elsewhere, 'The Lord reigneth, 
let the earth rejoice ; let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof. Clouds and 
darkness are round about him ; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of 
his throne. A fire goeth before him ; his lightnings enlightened the world. The 
hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord ; at the presence of the Lord of 
the whole earth ;'" and when he is represented as casting contempt on all the great 
men of this world, and is said to ' cut off the spirit of princes, and to be terrible 
to the kings of the earth, '^ and to ' charge' even ' his angels with folly ;'y or when 

r Isa. i. 2. s Chap. xlv. 23. t Cliap. Ixvi. 1, u Psal. xcvii. 1 — 5. 

X Psal. Ixxvi. 12. v Job iv. 18. 


the prophet speaks of him, as He who had ' measured the waters in the hollow of 
his hand, and meted the heavens with a span, and comprehended the dust of the 
earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a bal- 
ance ;' before whom ' the nations of the earth are as a drop of the bucket, and are 
counted as the small dust of the balance ; yea, as nothing, less than nothing and 
vanity.'^ It would be almost endless to refer to the many places of scripture, in 
which God speaks in such a style as is inimitable by any creature. Of this we 
have several instances in the book of Job, especially in those chapters where he is 
represented as answering Job out of the whirlwind,'^ and where expressions are 
used which, if not immediately from God, could proceed only from the most bold 
presumption in any creature, and which, therefore, argue the style to be olivine, 
great, and magnificent. The argument taken from the majestic style of scripture, 
is not without its proper weight ; and it may serve to prepare us for those other 
arguments, which, together with this, evince the divine origin of scripture. 

II. The divine authority of scripture appears from the purity of its doctrines. 
The argument from this holds good, whether we consider the scripture absolutely, 
or compare it with other writings. It will appear, by its purity, not only to excel all 
other compositions, but to be truly divine, and to be deservedly styled the ' Holy 
Scripture.'^ The words of it are 'pure as silver tried in a furnace, p^irified seven 
times ;'^ and it speaks of 'right things in which there is nothing froward or per- 
verse.''^ Every one that weighs the subject-matter of it may behold therein the 
displays of the glory of the holiness of God. Let us consider, then, that the word 
of God appears to be divine from its purity and holiness. 

1. As considered absolutely, or in itself. It lays open the vile and detestable 
nature of sin, to render it abhorred by us. Thus the apostle says, ' I had not 
known sin,' that is, I had not so fully understood the abomiiiable nature thereof as 
I do, ' but by the law ; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou 
shalt not covet ;'^ and hereupon he concludes, that ' the law is holy, and the com- 
mandment holy, and just, and good.' It also presents to our view various instances 
of the divine vengeance, and shows us how the wrath of God is revealed against the 
unrighteousness of sinners, to make them afraid of rebelling against Inm. Thus 
it gives us an account how the angels fell by rebellion from their first habitation, and 
are thrust down to hell, being * reserved in chains under darkness, unto the judg- 
ment of the great day ;'* and how man by disobedience lost his primitive integrity and 
glory, and exposed himself to the wrath and curse of God, and to all the miseries of 
this life, consequent upon these ; and how sin has destroyed flourishing nations and 
rendered them desolate, — how the Jews were first carried into Babylon for their 
idolatry and other abominations, and afterwards cast off and made the sad monu- 
ment of the divine wrath, as at this day, for crucifying Christ, persecuting his fol- 
lowers, and opposing the gospel. It also gives an account of the distress and terror 
of conscience, which wilful and presumptuous sins have exposed particular persons 
to, — such as Cain, Judas, and others ; and it describes these in a very pathetic 
manner, when it says of the wicked man who has his portion of the good things of 
this life, that when he comes to die, ' terrors take hold of him as waters ; a tem- 
pest stealeth him away in the night ; the east^wind carrieth him away, and he de- 
parteth, and hurleth him out of his place ; for God shall cast upon him, and not 
spare ; he would fain flee out of his hand.'^ Moreover, the scripture warns sinners 
of that eternal ruin which they expose themselves to in the other world : ' Who 
shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and 
from the glory of his power. '^ All these things discover the purity and holi- 
ness of the word of God. Nor does scripture ever give the least indulgence or 
dispensation to sin, or, in any of its doctrines, lead to licentiousness. And it not 
only reproves sin in the life and outward conversation of men, but also discovers 
its secret recesses in the heart, where its chief seat is ; and obviates and guards 
against its first motions, tending thereby to regulate the secret thoughts of men, 

Z Isa. xl. 12, 15, 17. a Job xxxviii xli, b Rom. i. 2. c Psal. xii. 6. 

d Prov, viii. 6—8. e Rom. vii. 7. f Jude 6. g Job xxvii. 20— .22. 

h 2 Thess. i. y. 


and the principle of all their actions, which it requires to be pure and holj. All 
the blessings and benefits also, which it holds fortli, or puts us in mind of, as the 
peculiar instances of divine iavour and love to man, are urged and insisted on as 
motives to holiness. Thus it is said, ' The goodness of God leadeth thee to repen- 
tance.'' And when Moses had been putting the Israelites in mind of God's increasing 
them ' as the stars of heaven for multitude, '^ he adds, ' therefore thou shalt love the 
Lord thj God, and keep his charge and statutes, his judgments and command- 
ments alway.' And when the loving-kindness of God has been abused by men, 
scripture severely reproves them for their vile ingratitude ; as when it says, ' Do ye 
thus requite the liord, foolish people and unwise ? Is he not thy father that 
bought thee ? Hath not he made thee, and established thee ?'^ All the examples 
which it proposes to our imitation are such as savour of, and lead to holiness. 
When it recommends the actions or conversation of men, it is more especially for 
the holiness which they discover ; and when it describes the conduct of wicked 
men, together with the dreadful consequences of it, it is that we may avoid and 
be deterred from the sins which end in their ruin. Again, the rules laid down re- 
lating to civil affairs in the Old Testament dispensation, and the behaviour of one 
man towards another, have a vein of holiness running through them all. The govern- 
ment of the^ Jewish state, as described in the books of Moses and elsewhere, dis- 
covers it to be an holy commonwealth ; and the Jews are often called an holy 
nation, as governed by those laws which God gave them. So the government 
of the church in the gospel dispensation, is a holy government ; visible holiness is 
a term of church-communion, and apostacy and revolt from God excludes from it. 
Finally, all the promises contained in scripture are or will be certainly fulfilled, 
and the blessings it gives us ground to expect, conferred ; and therefore it is a 
faithful word, and consequently pure and holy. 

2. If we compare the scripture with other writings, which are of human com- 
position, it plainly excels in holiness. The writings of heathen moralists, such as 
Seneca, Plato, and others, though they contain a great many good directions for 
ordering the conduct of men, agreeably to the dictates of nature and right reason, 
yet, for the most part, allow of or plead for some sins which the scripture men- 
tions with abhorrence, such as revenging injuries and self-murder. These and 
several other species of moral impurity, were not only practised by those who laid 
down the best rules to enforce moral virtue, but were either countenanced, or, at 
least, not sufficiently fenced against, by what is contained in their writings. And 
their strongest motives to virtue, or the government of the passions, or a generous 
contempt of the world, are taken principally from the tendency which a virtuous 
course of life has to free us from those things that tend to debase and afflict the 
mind, and fill it with uneasiness, when we consider ourselves as acting contrary to 
the dictates of nature, which we have as intelligent creatures. The scripture, on 
the other hand, leads us to the practice of Christian virtues from better motives, 
and considers us not barely as men, but as Christians, under the highest obligations 
to the blessed Jesus, and constrained to a virtuous life by his condescending love, 
expressed in all that he has done and suft'ered for our redemption and salvation. 
And it puts us upon desiring and hoping for communion with God, through him, 
in the performance of tliose evangelical duties which the light of nature knows no- 
thing of ; and so discovex's a solid foundation for our hope of forgiveness of sin, 
through his blood, together with peace of conscience and joy resulting from it. It 
also directs us to look for that life and immortality which is brought to light through 
the gospel. And in all these respects, it far excels the writings of the best heathen 
moralists ; and so contains in it the visible marks and characters of its divine ori- 
ginal. — If, again, we compare the scriptures with writings among Christians which 
pretend not to inspiration, we shall find in these writings a great number of impure 
and false doctrines, derogatory to the glory of God. And if men who have the 
scripture in their hands propagate unholy doctrines, they would do so much more 
were there no scripture to guide them. Thus the popish doctrines of free-will, the 
merit of good works, human satisfactions, penances, indulgences and dispensations 

i fiom, ii. 4. k Deut. x. 22, compared with chap. xi. 1. 1 Deut. xxxii. 6. 


for sin, are all impure doctrines, whicli are directly contrary to scripture. And as 
contraries illustrate each other, so the holiness and purity of scripture which maintains 
doctrines the opposite of these, will appear to those who impartially study it, and 
understand its sense. — If, further, we compare the scriptures with the imposture of 
Mahomet, in the book called the Alcoran, which the Turks make use of as a rule of 
faith, and reckon truly divine, we shall find that that book contains a system not only 
of fabulous but of corrupt and impure notions, accommodated to men's sensual inclina- 
tions. Thus it allows of polygamy, and many impurities in this world, and promises 
to its votaries a sensual paradise in the next, all which is contrary to scripture. 
Compositions merely human, therefore, whether they pretend to divine inspiration or 
not, discover themselves not to be the word of God by their unholiness ; while the 
scripture manifests itself to be divine by the purity of its doctrine. Indeed, it can- 
not be otherwise, considering the corruption of man's nature, as well as the dark- 
ness and blindness of his mind ; in consequence of which, any rule of faith which 
he might pretend to frame, will be like himself, impure and unholy. Hence that 
which has such marks of holiness as the scripture has, appears to be inspired by a 
holy God. 

We shall now show the weight of this argument, or how far it may be insisted 
on to prove the divine authority of scripture. It is to be confessed, that a book's 
containing holy things, or rules for a holy life, does not of itself prove its divine 
origin ; for then other books might be called the word of God besides the scrip- 
ture. But this is so called, not only as containing some rules that promote holi- 
ness, but as being the fountain of all true religion. And its possessing this char- 
acter above any book of human composition, attords an argument of some weight to 
prove it to be of God. 1. Man, who is prone to sin, naturally blinded and preju- 
diced against divine truth and holiness, could never compose a book which is so 
consonant to the divine perfections, and contains such a display of God's glory, and 
is so adapted to make us holy. 2. If we suppose that man could invent a collec- 
tion of doctrines, which tended to promote holiness, could he invent doctrines so 
glorious, and so much adapted to this end, as those of scripture are? If he could, 
he that does this must be either a good or a bad man : if the former, he would 
never pretend the scripture to be of divine authority, when it was his own compo- 
sition ; and if the latter, it is contrary to his character, as such, to endeavour to pro- 
mote holiness, — for then Satan's kingdom must be divided against itself. But of 
this, we shall say more in its proper place, when we come to consider the character 
of the penmen of scripture, as a further proof of its divine authority. 3. It is plain 
that the world without scripture, could not attain holiness. The apostle says, ' the 
world by wisdom knew not God ;' "^ and certainly where there is no saving knowledge 
of God, there is no holiness. And the same apostle gives an account of the great 
abominations that were committed by the heathen : who, being destitute of scrip- 
ture light, were ' filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetous- 
ness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity,' &c. " The lact, 
therefore, that the doctrines contained in the scriptures are not only pure and holy 
themselves, but tend to promote holiness in us, is not without its proper weight to 
prove the divine origin of scripture. 

III. The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God by the consent 
or liarmony of all their parts. This argument will appear more strong and conclu- 
sive, if we compare them with other writings, in which there is but little harmony. 
Thus, if we consult the writings of most uninspired men, we shall find that their 
sentiments are often inconsistent or contradictory ; and that if, as historians, they 
pretend to report matters of fact, their evidence or report does not harmonize. 
This shows that they are fallible ; while the exact and harmonious agreement of 
scripture proves it divine. That merely human compositions agree n('t among 
themselves, is very evident ; and this is little to be wondered at, if we consider that 
men are naturally blind and unacquainted with the tlnngs of God. As then- writ- 
ings are often inconsistent with the standard of truth, by which they are to be 
tried, they will hardly be consistent with themselves, much less with one another. 

m 1 Cor. i. 21. ii Rom. i. 29—31. 


Nothing is more common than for men to betray their weakness, and cast a blem- 
ish on tiieir compositions by contradicting themselves ; especially if their writings are 
long, and on various subjects. They are also liable to contradict one another, when 
any scheme of doctrine is pretended to be laid down by ditferent persons ; for when 
they attempt to represent matters of fact, they often do it in a very different light. 
This may be especially observed in those accounts that are given of doctrines which 
are new, or not well known by the world ; or in historical accounts, not only of gen- 
eral occurrences, but of particular circumstances attending them, — where, trusting 
to their memory and judgment, they often impose on themselves and otliers. The 
disagreement of human writings is particularly apparent when the autliors were 
men of no great natural wisdom. If especially they lived in different ages, or in 
places remote from one another, and so could have no opportunity to consult one an- 
other or compare their writings together, we sliall scarce ever find a perfect harmony 
or agreement in their writings. Now nothing preserves the books of scripture irom 
such inconsistency and contradiction as are found in all other compositions, except 
that they were written by divine inspiration. This will appear, if we consider tliat 
the penmen were in themselves as liable to mistake as other men. Had they been 
left to themselves, they would have betrayed as much weakness, confusion, and 
self-contradiction, as any other writers have done. They might even indeed have 
betrayed more, inasmuch as many of them had not the advantage of a liberal educa- 
tion, nor were conversant in human learning. But they were taken from mean 
employments, and made use of by God as penmen of scripture, that we might, in 
their want of human learning, see more of the divinity of the writings which they 
were employed to transmit to us. Besides, they lived in different ages and places, 
and so could not consult together what to impart ; and yet we find, as we shall 
endeavour to prove, that they all agree together. The harmony of their writings, 
therefore, is an evident proof that they were inspired by the same Spirit, and con- 
sequently that these writings are the word of God. 

We might here consider the historical parts of scripture, and the account which 
one inspired writer gives of matters of fact, as agreeing with what is related by 
another ; and also the harmony of all the doctrines contained in them, as agreeing 
not only in the general scope and design of the writings, but in the way and man- 
ner in which they are particularly laid down or explained. But we shall illustrate 
the harmony of scripture, only by comparing what is foretold in one part with what 
is related in another as accomplished. Tiiere are various predictions relating to 
the providential dealings of God with his people, which had their accomphshment in 
an age or two after. Tims the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others, foretold the 
captivity of the Jews, the number of years they should be detained in Babylon, and 
their deliverance by Cyrus, who is expressly mentioned by name. These prophe- 
cies, and the accomplishment of them, are so obvious, that there is no one who 
reads the Old Testament but will see a harmony between them ; so that what in 
one place is represented as foretold, in another place is spoken of as accom- 
plished in its proper time." And the revolt and apostacy of Israel, their turning 
aside from God to idolatry, and their falling in consequence into desolation, were 
foretold by Moses,? and by Joshua ;*i and every one that reads the book of Judges 
will see that the events occurred exactly as they were foretold. "" And the prophecy 
of the great reformation which Josiah should make, and in particular, that he' should 
'burn the bones' of the idolatrous priests ' on the altar at Bethel,'* was exactly 
accomplished above three hundred years after/' 2. There are also various predic- 
tions under the old testament relating to our Saviour and the new testament church, 
many of which have had their accomplishment, and others are daily accomplishing. 
It is said, ' To him gave all the prophets witness, that, through liis name, whoso- 
ever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." And we shall find, that 
what is foretold concerning him in the Old Testament, is related as accomplished in 
the New. For example, that he should come in the flesh, was foretold in the Old 

o Isa. xliv. 28. and chap. xlv. 1 — 4. compared with Ezra i. 2, 3. p Deut. xxxi. 29. 

q Josh, xxiii. 15, 16. and chap. xxiv. 19. r Judg. ii. 8, 10, 11, 14. s 1 Kings xiii. 2. 

t 2 King:j xxiii. 15, 16. u Acts x. 43. 


Testament,^ and is mentioned as accomplished in the Now.y That he should work 
miracles for the good of mankind, and to confirm his mission, was for 610111,''' and 
accomplished.* That he should live in this world in a low and humbled state, was 
foretold ;'' and the whole account of his life in the gospels bears witness tliat the 
predictions on this subject were fully accomplished. That he should be cut off, 
and die a violent death, by being lifted up upon the cross, was typified by tlie bra- 
zen serpent in the wilderness, ° and foretold' in several other scriptures;^ and this 
is largely insisted on, in the New Testament, as fulfilled. That after he had con- 
tinued some time in a state of humiliation, he should be exalted, was foretold," 
and fulfilled.*' That his glory should be proclaimed and published in the preach- 
ing of the gospel, was foretold,^ and fulfilled,'' as appears from many scriptures. 
That he should be the spring and fountain of all blessedness to his people, was 
foretold,' and fulfilled.'^ In these, and many other instances, we may observe such 
a beautiful consent of all the parts of scripture, as proves it to be the very word of 
God. [See note P. page 69. J 

But since it will not be sufficient for supporting the divine authority of scripture, 
to assert that there is such a harmony as we have observed, unless we can prove that 
the scripture doth not contradict itself in any instances, we shall next consider the 
reproach cast upon it by those who would bring all divine revelation into contempt, 
by alleging that it contradicts itself in several instances, and contains various absur- 
dities, which, were they proved, would enervate the argument we are maintaining. 
We shall consider some of the alleged contradictions as so many objections against 
the harmonious consent, and consequently the divine authority, of scripture ; and 
shall add such answers as may be given to each. 

There is alleged to be a very great inconsistency between our Saviour's genea- 
logy, as related in the first of Matthew, and in the third of Luice ; for one evangelist 
mentions different persons as his progenitors, from what the other does. For instance, 
in Mafcth. i., he is said to be the son of Joseph, and Joseph the son of Jacobs and he 
the son of Matthan ; but Luke says, that he was the son of Joseph, ' which was the 
son of lleli, which was the son of Matthat.' In like manner, we find the names of each 
genealogy differing from those of the other, till we come to David. It is alleged, 
therefore, that both genealogies cannot be true, inasmuch as the one contradicts 
the other. There is really, however, no contradiction between the two genealo- 
gies ; for Matthew gives an account of Joseph's ancestors, and Luke of Mary's ; 
and so, both together, prove that he was the son of David, by his reputed father's 
as well as by his mother's side. And if it be replied, that Luke, as well as Mat- 
thew, gives an account of Joseph's genealogy, and that therefore our answer is not 
sufficient, we may observe, that it is said, * Jesus was, as was supposed, the son of 
Joseph, which was the son of Heli,'^ &c. and that the meaning is, he was indeed 
the supposed son of Joseph, but was really descended from lleli, the father of the 
virgin Mary. Nothing is more common in scripture than for grandsons to be called 
sons ; and if we observe the meaning of the Greek words which we i-ender, ' which 
was the son,' &c. they may be better rendered, 'who descended from Heli ;' and 
then, supposing Heli to be his grandfather, there is not the least absurdity in the 
passage. There is, therefore, no appearance of contradiction between the two 
scriptures which contain the genealogy. 

It is pretended that there is a contradiction between 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. and 
1 Chron. xxi. 25. ; in the former of which passages it said, that David bought the 
threshing-ttoor of Araunah the Jebusite, to budd an altar on, and the oxen for 
burnt-offerings, that the plague might be stayed, ' for fifty shekels of silver ;' while 
in Chronicles, it is said that ' he gave him for the place six hundred shekels of 
gold.' Now the facts seem to be these : — David paid Araunah (who is otlierwise called 
Oman) for his threshing-floor where he built an altar, and for the oxen which he 

X Hag ii. 7. Mai. iii. 1. Isa. ix. 6. y John i. 14. Gal. iv. 4. z Isa. xxxv. 5, 6. 

a Matt. xi. 4. 5. b Isa. Iii. 14. and chap. liii. 3. c Niiml). xxi. 9. compared with John iii. 14. 

d Isa. h'v. 7. and Dan. ix. 2(3. e Isa. Iii. 13. chap. liii. 11, 12. Psal. Ixviii. 18. 

f Acts 1. 9. Phil. li. 9. p Isa. xi. 10. PshI. ex. 2. Isa. Ix. I, 2, 3. hi Tim. iii. 16. 

Mark XV i. 1;"). i Gtn. xxii. 18. Psal. Ixxii. 17. Isa. xlix. 8, 9. k 2 Cor v. i. 2. Acts iii. 26. 

i Luke 111. 23, 24. 


bought for sacrifice, fifty shekels of silver, as is stated in Samuel. But, besides 
this threshing-floor, he bought the whole place, as is stated in Chronicles, that is, 
the whole tract of ground, or mountain, on which the threshing-floor stood, 
and on which he designed that the temple should be built. He therefore saith 
concerning it, ' This is the house of the Lord God,''" — that is, this place, or tract 
of land, which I have bought round about the threshing-floor, is the place where 
the house of God shall stand ; ' and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel,' 
— that is, this particular spot where the threshing-floor stands, is where the altar 
of burnt-ofteriug shall be placed. Now, though he gave for the threshing-floor but 
fifty shekels of silver, — ^'hich probably was as much as it was worth ; yet the 
whole place, containing ground enough for the temple, with all its courts, and the 
places leading to it, was worth a great deal more, or if there were any houses in 
the place, these were also purchased to be pulled down, to make room for the tem- 
ple ; — and for all this, he gave six hundred shekels of gold ; and we can hardly sup- 
pose it to have been worth less. There is, therefore, no real contradiction between 
these tv/o passages. 

It is pretended, that there is a contradiction between 2 Sam. xxiv. 13. and 1 
Chron. xxi. 12 ; in the former of which Gad, having been sent to David to reprove 
him for his numbering the people, came to him and said, ' Shall seven years of fa- 
mine come unto thee in thy land ? ' while, in Chronicles, he speaks of but ' three 
years of famine.' To reconcile this seeming contradiction, some think that, in 
some ancient copies, the words are not seven, but ' three years of famine,' in Sam- 
uel, as in Chronicles. The reason of this conjecture is, that the LXX., or Greek trans- 
lation, has the words so ; and they think that these translators would hardly have made 
so bold with scripture, as to put three for seven, and that they found the words as 
they state them in the copies which they made use of, when they compiled their 
translation. The best way, however, to account for the seeming contradiction, is 
this : In Chronicles, Gad bids David choose if he would have three years of famine 
from that time ; but in Samuel he asks if seven years in all of famine should come 
unto him. There had been three years of famine already, ' for Saul and for his 
bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites : ' " that famine ceased but the year 
before ; and the ground being so chapped and hard for want of rain this year, which 
was the fourth, was little better than a year of famine. Now, saith Gad, ' wilt thou 
have this famine continued three years more, which, in all, makes up seven years?' 
If we take the two passages in this sense, there is no contradiction between them, 
though the one speaks of three years, and the other of seven. 

Some pretend to find an inconsistency, or absurdity, little better than a contra- 
diction, by comparing 1 Sam. xvi. 21, 22. with chap. xvii. 55. In the former it is 
said, ' David came to Saul, and stood before him, and he loved him greatly; and 
he became his armour-bearer, and he sent to Jesse,' with the intent that he might 
give him leave 'to stand before him, inasmuch as he had found favour in his sight.' 
Now, say they, " how can this be consistent with the other scripture ; where Saul, 
seeing David going forth against Goliath the Philistine, asked Abner, * Whose son 
is this youth ? ' and Abner replied, ' He could not tell,' and was ordered to ' inquire 
who he was,' — how could this ignorance exist, when David had been Saul's 
armour-bearer, stood before him, and found favour in his sight ; and when Saul 
had sent to Jesse to desire that he might live with him ? " I can see no appear- 
ance of absurdity, or defect of harmony, between these two scriptures. Supposing 
Saul's memory had failed him, and he had forgot that David had stood before him 
as a servant, shall the scripture, that gives an account of this, be reflected on, as 
containing an inconsistency ? It is true, David had stood before Saul, as his ar- 
mour-bearer ; yet he had, for some time, been dismissed from his service, and lived 
at home where he kept his father's sheep. Probably, too, he had not lived long in 
Saul's family ; and it might be no wonder if Saul had now forgot him. There is 
no master of a family but may forget what servants have formerly lived with him; 
and much more a king, who hardly knows tlie names of the greatest part of 
the servants that are about him. Besides, David at this time, appeared in the 

m 1 Chron. xxii. 1. n 2 Sam. xxi. 1. 


habit of a shepherd ; and on that account Saul might well say, ' Whose son is the 
vouth ?' This sufficiently accounts for the difficulty, and vindicates this scripture 
from the charge of inconsistency. Some, however, account for it by supposing that 
Saul knew David, as hav-ing been his armour-bearer, but did not know his father, 
and thei-efore asks, ' Whose son is this ?' or who is he that hath so bold and dar- 
ing a son, as this youth appears to be ? If these things be considered, there ap- 
pears not the least absurdity in this scripture. 

Another contradiction which some charge the scripture with, relates to 
the Israelites, when, pursuant to the advice of Balaam, they committed 
idolatry, and went a-whoring after the daughters of Moab, and God consumed 
tliem for it by the plague. In reference to this the book of Numbers says, 
•Those that died in the plague were twenty-four thousand ;'° but the apostle 
Paul, referring to the same thing, says, ' Neither let us commit fornication, as 
some of them committed, and fell in one day tliree and twenty thousand.'? The 
answer that may be given to this objection, is that the apostle Paul when he 
says, 'three and twenty thousand died,' or fell, 'in one day,' speaks of those 
who died by the immediate hand of God, through the pestilential distemper that 
was sent among them ; but took no account of a considerable number more who, 
for the same sin, died by the hand of public justice. In the passage in Numbers, 
we read of the ' heads of the people being hanged up before the Lord, and the 
judges being ordered to slay every man his men that were joined unto Baal-peor,'i 
These died by the sword of justice ; and it is no great impropriety to say, that they 
died in a mediate way, by the plague or sword of God. The sword is one of his 
plagues, as well as pestilential diseases, and is frequently so styled in scripture. 
Now, we cannot suppose that fewer died of this latter plague, if that be the import 
of the word, than a thousand ; so that Moses gives the number of all that died, 
whether by God's immediate hand, or by the sword of the magistrate, pursuant to 
his command. But if it be reckoned too great a strain upon the sense of the word 
plague, to give this solution, let it be farther observed, that in the ninth verse, 
where Moses gives the sum total of those that died, it is not said that they were 
such as died of the plague, but in the plague ; — that is, those who died in or soon 
after the time that the plague raged among them, whose death was occasioned by 
this sin, were four and twenty thousand. These two places of scripture, therefore, 
are so far from contradicting that they rather illustrate each other. 

Another pretended contradiction is between Gal. i. 8. and 2 Cor. xi. 4, In the 
one passage, the apostle says, ' Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any 
other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be 
accursed ; ' and in the other he says, ' If he that cometh, preacheth another Jesus 
whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not re- 
ceived, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.' 
In the former he speaks against those who preach another gospel ; in the latter he 
says they may be borne with, — which seems to be a contradiction. For reconcil- 
ing the passages, let us consider, that, in the for^ner of them, the apostle pronounces 
those who preached another gospel accursed, and that therefore they, doubtless, were 
not to be borne with. And it must be inquired what he means when he says, in 
the other scripture, that such may be well borne Muth. Now this scripture will, 
without the least strain or force upon the words, admit of one of these two senses : 
1. It may be considered as containing a sarcasm, by which the apostle reproves the 
Corinthians for being too much inclined to adhere to false teachers. ' If,' says he, 
'these bring you tidings of a better Jesus, a better spirit, a better gospel, then bear 
with them ; but this they cannot do, — therefore reject them.' Or 2. Instead of ' Ye 
might well bear with him,' the words may be rendered, ' Ye might well bear with 
me,' as is observed in the marginal reference. The word 'him,' being in an Italic 
character, is not in the original; and 'me' may as well be supplied as 'him.' 
The meaning would then be this : " Y^e bear with false preachers, are very favour- 
able to them, and seem a little cold to us the apostles ; so that I am afraid lest 
your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. You can 

Numb. XXV. 9. pi Cor. x. 8. q Verses 4, 5. 


bear with these false teachers; and will je not bear with me.' •Would to God 
you could bear with me a little in mj follj, and indeed bear with me.' "'" It is a 
sign tliat religion is at a low ebb, when professors, who are too prone to turn aside 
to anotlier gospel, are with some difficulty persuaded to bear with those that preach 
the pure gospel of Christ. Take the words in Corinthians in either of the senses 
suggested, and they exactly harmonize with the text in Galatians, and do not, as 
the objectors pretend, contradict it. 

Anotlier charge of contradiction brought against scripture is founded on that 
saying of our Saviour, ' Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth ; I 
came not to send peace, but a sword.''* This, it is alleged, is contrary to Christ's 
general character, as a ' Prince of peace;'' — to the advice he gives his disciples, 
'not to use the sword,' because such as use it 'shall perish by it;'" — and to what 
he saith elsewhere, 'My kingdom is not of this world,'" and therefore not to be 
propagated by might or power, by force or civil policy, or by those other carnal 
methods by which the kingdoms of this world are advanced and promoted. For 
reconciling this seeming contradiction, let it be considered that Christ did not come 
to put a sword into his followers' hands, or to put them upon making war with the 
powers among whom they dwell, for the propagating of the Christian religion : his 
gospel was to be advanced by spiritual methods. In this sense, the design of his 
coming was not to send a sword, but to bring spiritual peace to his people. But 
when he saith, ' I came to send a sword,' he implies that his coming, his kingdom, 
and gospel, should occasion persecution and w^ar, by reason of the corruption of 
men. This the gospel may do, and yet not put men upon disturbing their neigh- 
bours, or making war with them ; and it is not contrary to Christ's general char- 
acter of coming to be the author of spiritual peace to his people. 

Another pretended contradiction, is between I Kings viii. 0. and Heb. ix. 4. In the 
former it is said, ' There was nothing in the ark but the two tables, which Moses put 
there ; ' in the latter, that there ' was the golden pot, that had manna, and Aaron's 
rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.' This seeming contradiction may 
easily be reconciled. We suppose it true that there was nothing in the ark but the 
two tables, as is stated in the former of these scriptures ; and to explain ihe latter 
agreeably to it, two senses of it may be given. It is not necessary to suppose, that 
the apostle means, in the arh was the golden pot, &c. *but in the holiest of all, which 
he mentions in the foregoing verse. And the meaning is, as in the holiest of all there 
were the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, so in the latter were the golden 
pot and Aaron's rod. But there may be an objection to this sense, from its being 
said, in the words immediately following, that ' over it were the cherubim of glory 
shadowing the mercy-seat;' where 'it' refers to the ark, and not to the tabernacle 
or holiest of all. And it may be argued, that if the cherubim were over the ark, 
then the other things must be supposed to be in it. This objection is not without 
its force; unless we suppose that the words translated 'over it'y may be rendered 
'in the higher parts of it,' and the whole clause to be, 'In the higher parts of it,' 
the holiest of all, 'were the cherubim of glory above the mercy-seat.' The mean- 
ing then will be, that, within the second vail, were not only the ark, the golden pot 
of manna, Aaron's rod, &c. but also the cherubim of glory, which were above them 
all. But since the grammatical construction seems rather to favour the objection, 
there is another sense given of the words, which sufficiently reconciles the soeming 
contradiction, namely : — When it is said, that ' therein,' or 'm it,'^ that is, in the 
ark. 'was the gulden pot that had manna and Aaron's rod that budded,' the mean- 
ing is, they were 'near it,' or 'beside it,' or some way or other fastened or adjoin- 
ing to it, in some enclosure in the outside of the ark ; while nothing was in it but 
the two tables. There is therefore no real contradiction between these two scriptures. 
Many more instances of pretended contradictions might be stated and satisfac- 
torily refuted ; but, instead of noticing them, we choose rather to lay down some 
general rules for reconciling seeming contradictions in scripture, which may be ap- 
plied by us in any cases where difficulties occur. And, 

r Verse I. s Mutt. .\. ."4. i Isa. ix. 6. u Matt. xxvi. 52. x John xviii. SH. 
y Trtpavu aurnf. 'L [tv «.] " ofttiitinies signifies, cum, ad, jirope,juxta, iis vr'eU ai jr. 


1. A seeming contradiction sometimes arises from the inadvertency of some who 
have transcribed the copies of scripture, in putting one word for another ; — thou'^h 
this is not often the case ; for great care has been taken in transcribing the manu- 
scripts of scripture, even greater, perhaps, than in transcribing any manuscripts 
whatever. The mistakes in transcribing are fow, and occur only where there is 
such a likeness between two words that one might easily be mistaken for the other. 
And this ought not to prejudice any against the scripture ; for it only argues, that 
though the inspired penmen were infallible, the scribes that took copies of scripture 
for common use were not so. Wlien there is any mistake, it may generally be recti- 
iied by some other copy, that has the word as it really should be. So in some edi- 
tions of our printed bibles, we find mistakes as to some words, which may be rectified 
by others which are more correct. And if so, why may not mistakes be supposed to 
be in some written copies of the scriptures, from which printed copies are taken, 
and which were used before printing, which is but a late invention, was known iu 
the woidd ? 

2. When the same action in scripture seems to be ascribed to difTerent persons, 
or the same thing said to be done in different places, there is no contradiction ; for 
the same person, or place, is sometimes called by various names. Thus Moses' 
father-in-law, who met him in the wilderness, and advised him in settling the gov- 
ernment of the people, is called, in one place, Jethro,* and in another, Hobab;'' 
and the mountain from which God gave the law to Israel is sometimes called 
Sinai, <= and at other times lloreb."^ 

3. Chronological difficulties, or such seeming contradictions as arise from a 
difi'erence of computation as to the time in which any thing is said to have been done, 
may be reconciled by referring to different epochs or dates of computation. It is said, 
for example, that the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 
four hundred and thirty years ;® but when God foretells this sojourning, he says, 
' Thy seed shall be strangers iu a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and 
they shall afflict them four hundred years.'*' Now the four hundred and thirty 
years take their beginning of computation irom Abraham's being called to leave his 
country, and sojourn in the land of promise, as in a strange land. But the four 
hundred years take their beginning of computation from his having 'the promised 
seed, or irom the birth of Isaac, — which happened twenty-five years after his leav- 
ing his country. From that time till the children of Israel's going out of Egypt 
was four hundred and five years, and the five years above four hundred are left out, 
as being an inconsiderable number. In the same way, our common method of com- 
puting time, when a large even number is mentioned, leaves out a small one of 
four or five years, more or less, as in the instance here mentioned ; especially when 
time is expressed by centuries, as it is here ; for it is said, in verse 16, 'In the 
fourth generation,' that is, after the fourth century of years, ' they shall come hither 

4. When, by comparing the years of the reign of any of the kings of Judah or 
of Israel, as mentioned in the books of Kings and of Chronicles, we find that he is 
said, in one of these books, to have reigned three or four years longer than 
according to the account given in the other, the seeming contradiction may be re- 
conciled, by considering him as having begun to reign before his father's death, as 
Solomon did before David died, or as having been nominated his father's successor, 
and owned as such by the people, which was sometimes done to prevent disputes that 
might afterwards arise. Sometimes, too, when a king was engaged in foreign wars, 
which obliged him to be absent from his people, and the event of which was uncer- 
tain, he appointed his son to reign in his absence ; from which time the latter had 
the title of a king, though his father was living. Or when a king was superannuated, 
or unfit to reign, as Uzziah was when smote with leprosy, — or when he was weary 
of the fatigue and burden of government, — he would settle his son, as his viceroy, in 
his life-time ; on which account the son is sometimes said to reign with his lather. 
Thus many account for the difficulty respecting Jehoiachin, who, in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 

a Exod. xviii. 1. h Numb. x. 29. c Exod. xix. 20. d Deut. i. 6. 

e Exod. xii 40. f Gen. xv. I'J. 

I. O 


9, is said to have been ' eight years old when he began to reign,' while in 2 Kings 
xxiv. 8. he is said to have been ' eighteen years old when he began to reign.' The 
meaning is, that when he was eight years old he was nominated as his father's suc- 
cessor ; but when he was eighteen years old he began to reign alone, his father 
being then dead. 

5. Scriptures that seem to contradict one another may not, as to their 
general design, treat of the same but of ditterent subjects. Thus the seeming 
contradiction between the apostles Paul and James, is to be accounted for. 
The former says, ' Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, 
but by the faith of Jesus Christ ;'"* but the latter says, * By works a man is justified, 
and not by faith only.'° The apostle Paul speaks of a sinner's justification, or free- 
dom from the condemning sentence of the law in the sight of God. This justifica- 
tion gives him a right to eternal life ; and he looks for it out of himself, and, by 
faith, depends alone on Christ's righteousness for obtaining it. In this sense, 
works do not justify. But when the apostle James asserts, that 'a man is justified 
by works, and not by faith only,' he means that our profession of faith and sincer- 
ity in it are justified, that is evidenced, not by our having just notions of things, or 
an historical faith, such as the devils themselves have, but by those works of holi- 
ness which are the fruits of faith. This is the only justification he treats of, and he 
therefore does not in the least contradict the apostle Paul, who treats of another 
kind of justification, in which works are excluded. [See note Q, page 69.] 

6. When two scriptures seem to contradict each other, they may sometimes be 
reconciled by considering the same thing absolutely in one place, and comparatively 
in the other. Thus, in many scriptures, we are commanded to extend that love to 
every one in their several relations, which is due ; and yet our Saviour says, ' If 
any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, 
and brethren and sisters, he cannot be my disciple. 'p This is to be understood 
comparatively ; that is, our love to the creature ought to bear no proportion to that 
which is due to God. 

7. Scriptures that seem to contradict one another, often speak of difi'erent per- 
sons, or persons of different characters. Thus the commands, * Be ye merciful, as 
your Father also is merciful ;''J and 'Judge not, that ye be not judged,' "" respect 
persons in a private capacity ; and do not contradict scriptures which are applied 
to magistrates in the execution of public justice, and which say to them, ' Thine 
eye shall not pity, but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand 
for hand, foot for foot.'^ [See note R, page 69,] 

8. Two contrary assertions may be both true in different respects. Our 
Saviour says in one place, ' The poor ye have always with you, but me ye have not 
always;'* and in another, ' Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the 
world.'" These statements are both true; the one having reference to Christ's 
bodily presence as man, in which respect he is not now with us ; the other, to his 
spiritual and powerful influences, whereby he is always present with his people as 

9. We must take notice of different times or dispensations. Laws or ordinances, 
which were to be received and observed as a rule of faith and duty at one time, 
may not be so at another. Thus circumcision is recommended as a duty and a priv- 
ilege to the Jews before Christ's time, in which respect the apostle reckons it 
among the advantages which they formerly had above all other nations ;'^ but when 
the gospel dispensation was erected, and the Jewish economy abolished, it was sc 
far from being an advantage, that the observance of it was deemed no less than a 
subversion of the gospel. Hence the apostle says, ' If ye be circumcised, Christ 
shall profit you nothing. 'y The same apostle also gives a very diminutive charac- 
ter of these institutes of the ceremonial law, and calls them ' weak and beg- 
garly elements,' such as had a tendency to bring the converted Jews again in- 
to bondage ; and he blames them for observing the Jewish festivals, such as, ' days, 

n Gal. ii. 16. o James ii. 24. p Luke xiv. 26. q Chap. vi. 36. 

t Matth. vii. 1. » Deut. xix. 21. t Matth. xxvi. II. u Chap, xxviii. 20. 

X Rom. iii. 1, 2. y Gal. v. 2. 


months, times, and years,' — that is, the new moons, feasts of weeks, or of years, such 
as the seventh year, or the Jubilees ; and he tells them, on this occasion, ' I am 
afi'aid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.'^ Thus, then, what was 
a duty and a privilege in one age of the church, and enjoined with the greatest 
strictness and the intlicting of the severest punishments on those that neglected it, 
is forbidden as a sin in another age. There is, therefore, not the least shadow of 
contradiction between those scriptures which enjoin and those which forbid it. 
Thus, when our Saviour first sent his twelve disciples to preach the gospel, he com- 
manded them, 'not to go in the way of the Gentiles ;''' that is, not to do so as long as 
he was upon earth, or till they had finished their ministry among the Jews, to whom 
the word was first to be preached ; but he afterwards, when it was to be spread 
throughout the world, gave them a commission to ' preach the gospel to all nations. '** 
And this accordingly they did ; apprehending there was no contradiction between 
the former prohibition and the present command. 

IV. The divine authority of scripture may be further proved from the scope 
and design of the whole, which is to give all glory to God. It may be observed 
concernmg the scripture, that the advancing of the divine perfections, and the de- 
basing of the creature, is the great end designed by God in giving it ; and we find 
that whatever doctrine is laid down therein, this end is pursued. Now scripture 
doctrines are designed to advance the glory of God, either directly or by conse- 
quence. As to the former of these methods, the scripture abounds with instances 
in which God is adored, or set forth as the object of adoration, that is, as having 
all divine perfections, and as doing every thing becoming himself as a God of glory. 
Thus he is described as ' the Lord most high and terrible ; a great King over all 
the earth ;''^ as ' glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ;''^ as ' the 
true God, the living God, and an everlasting King ;'^ as 'the great and dreadful 
God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that 
keep his commandments ;''^ and it is also said, ' Thine, Lord, is the greatness, and 
the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty ; for all that, is in the 
heaven and in the earth is thine : thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art ex- 
alted as head above aU.'^ Not only does scripture, as in these passages, occasion- 
ally ascribe adorable perfections to God ; but every part of it displays his glory in 
so illustrious a manner, as gives ground to conclude, that the great design of it is 
to laise in us becoming apprehensions of him, to put us upon adoring and worship- 
ping him as God. It may also, by a just consequence, be said to give all glory to 
him, when it represents the emptiness and even nothingness of all creatui*es as com- 
pared with him, and thereby recommends him as all in all, — when it speaks of the 
best of creatures as vailing their faces before him, as acknowledging themselves 
unworthy to behold his glory, and as deriving all their happiness from him, — when 
it speaks of man as a sinful guilty creature, expecting all from him, and depend- 
ing upon him for needful grace, — and when it speaks of God as the author and 
finisher of faith, in whom alone there is hope of obtaining mercy and forgiveness, 
grace here, and glory hereafter. Making such representations as these, and laying 
them down as the sum of all religion, it must certainly be regarded as designing to 
give all glory to God. 

Now, let us consider the force of this argument, or how the general scope and 
design of scripture, to give all glory to God, proves its divine authority. Had it 
been the invention and contrivance of men, or had the writers falsely pretended 
that they had received it by inspiration from God, the great design of it would have 
been to advance themselves, and they would certainly have laid down in it such a 
scheme of religion, as is agreeable to the corrupt appetites and inclinations of 
men, or as would tend to indulge and dispense with sin, and not such an one as 
sets forth the holiness of God, and his infinite displeasure against it. And as for 
salvation, the penmen of scripture, had they not been inspired, would certainly 
have represented it as very easy to be attained, and not as a work of such difficulty 
as it really is. They would also have propagated such a religion as supposes the 

z Chap. iv. 9. 10, 11. a Matth. x. 5. b Chap, xxviii. 19. c Psal. xlvii. 2, 

d Exod. XV. U. e Jer. x. 10. f Dan. ix. 4. K ^ Chron. xxix. 11. 


creature not dependent on, or beholden to God for this salvation ; and then the 
scripture would have detracted from his glory. Its general design, however, is to 
give him the glorj due to his name ; and this is a convincing evidence of its divine 
origin. [See note S, page 70.] 

From the general design of scripture being to give all glory to God, we may 
infer that whenever we read the word of God, we ought to have tliis great design 
in view. Hence, wc should not consider it as merely an historical narrative of 
things done ; but should observe how the glory of tlie divine pei-fections is set forth, 
in order that we may be induced to ascribe greatness to God, and admire him fur 
all the discoveries which he makes of his character. The scripture's general design 
should also be a rule to us in the whole of our conversation. Whatever we receive 
or expect from God, or whatever duty we engage in, let us give all glory to him, and 
thus act as those who not only take the scripture lor our rule, but its general scope 
and design for our example. And whatsoever doctrines are pretended to be de- 
duced from, or to contain the sense of scripture, which, notwithstanding, tend to 
depreciate the divine perfections, are to be rejected as contrary to its general scope 
and design. 

y. Another argument for the divine authority of scripture may be taken from 
the character of the penmen. And here let them be supposed to be either good 
men or bad. If good men, they could not give themselves a liberty to impose 
upon the world, and pretend that they received that from God which they did not ; 
and if they were bad men, they neither could nor would have-laid down such doc- 
trines as centre in God, lead the soul to him, and tend to promote self-denial, and 
to advance his glory in all things. To imagine that wilful impostors fabricated 
the scriptures, is to suppose, which we can never do, that the worst of men may 
have the best ends. Our Saviour speaking of false prophets, who were to be known 
by their fruits, says, ' Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?' that is, 
wicked men will have bad designs, or are like the corrupt tree, which bringcth forth 
evil fruit. But on the other hand, if persons deliver that which carries in it internal 
evidence of divine truth, and have such a noble design in view as securing the 
honour of God, and promoting his interest in the world, they must certainly be 
approved of by him, and concluded to be good men ; and if so, they would not 
impose a fallacy on the world, or say that the scripture was given by divine in- 
spiration, when it was not. 

If the scriptures are not the word of God, the penmen have miserably deceived, 
not a small number of credulous people, but the whole Christian world ; among 
whom we must allow that many were judicious, and such as would not easily suffer 
themselves to be imposed on. Moreover, many to whom the gospel was preached, 
were exasperated enemies to them that preached it, and particularly to the inspired 
penmen of scripture, and greatly prejudiced against their doctrine ; and therefore 
would use all possible endeavours to detect the imposture, if there had been any. 
It was therefore morally impossible for the penmen to deceive the world by making 
them believe that the scriptures were the word of God, if there had not been sucli 
strong evidence of their being so, as they could not withstand or gainsay. 

But that we may enter a little further into the character of the penmen of scrip 
ture, let it be observed, that they could not bo charged by their enemies with im- 
moral practices, or notorious crimes, which might weaken the credit of the truths 
they delivered. They were, indeed, compassed about with like infirmities wirlj 
other men ; for it is not to be supposed, that, because they were inspired, they 
were perfectly free from sin. Yet their enemies themselves could find no great 
blemishes in their character, which might raise just prejudice against their writ- 
ings, or which might render them unfit to be employed in the great work of trans- 
mitting the mind of God to the world. They appear, on the contrary, to be men 
of great integrity, not declining to discover and aggravate their own faults, as well 
as the sins of others. Thus Moses, though a man of great meekness, as to his gen- 
eral character, discovers his own failing, in repining and being uneasy, because of 
the untoward and turbulent spirit of the people over whom he was appointed a gov- 
ernor ; and he thus represents himself as complaining to God : ' Wherefore hast thou 
afflicted thy servant ? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that 


thou layest the burden of all this people upon me ? Have I conceived all this peo- 
ple ? Have I begotten them, that thou shouldst say unto me, Carry them in thy 
bosom ? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ? I am not able 
to bear this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus 
with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight ; 
and let me not see mine own wretchedness.'*' This was certainly a very great 
blemish in the character of this excellent man ; but he does not attempt to con- 
ceal it. Neither does he omit to mention his backwardness to comply with the call 
of God, to deliver his brethren out of their bondage in Egypt ; but tells us what 
poor trifling excuses he made, — as when he says, ' my Lord, I am not eloquent.' ^ 
And when God answers him, by promising to supply this defect, he obstinately 
persists in declining the service, and says, ' my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the 
hand of him whom thou wilt send, ' that is, by any one but myself. So that, though 
he expressed such courage and resolution forty years before in defending the op- 
pressed Israelites, and supposed that his brethren would have understood that 
God, by his hand, would deliver them, but they understood it not;"" yet when 
God really called him to deliver them, he obstinately refused to obey. And, 
indeed, whatever excuses he might make, the main thing that lay at the bot- 
tom was fear ; and therefore, as a further inducement to it, God tells him that 
' the men were dead that sought his life.' All this he narrates concerning him- 
self. And elsewhere he tells us," that he did not sanctify the name of God in the 
eyes of the people, but spake unadvisedly with his lips ; and that, for this, God 
would not let him go into the land of Canaan, though he earnestly desired it> 
The prophet Jeremiah also tells us respecting himself that he was ready to faint ; 
and, in a murmuring way, he curses the day of his birth,'' and seems almost deter- 
mined * not to make mention of God, nor speak any more in his name,' because he 
had been put in the stocks by Pashur, and was derided and mocked by others, — 
who were, in fact, below his notice. And David discovered his own sin, though it 
was a very scandalous one, in the matter of Uriah ;P and prays, ' Deliver me from 
blood-guiltiness,' — words which are a confession of his being guilty of murder. 
The apostles also discover their infirmities. Thus Paul discovers his furious tem- 
per, in persecuting the church before his conversion, and ranks himself among the 
chief of sinners.i And how willing is Matthew to let the world know, that, belore 
his conversion, he was a publican. He characterizes himself as such,'' and says,^ 
that when Christ called him, he ' sat at the receipt of custom ; ' — though the publi- 
cans were reckoned among the vilest of men for extortion and other crimes, and 
were universally hated by the Jews. Moreover, as the penmen of scripture expose 
their own crimes, so they do those of their nearest and dearest friends and relatives, 
which carnal policy would have inclined them to conceal. Thus Moses relates that 
Aaron his brother made the golden calf, and so was the encourager and promoter 
of tlie people's idolatry ; that it was he who ' bade them break oti:' the golden ear- 
rings, which he received at their hand, whereof he made a molten calf, and then 
built an altar before it.'* The Jewish historian," Josephus, is so politic as, for the 
honour of his own nation, to conceal this affair ; and when he tells us that Moses 
went up into the mount to receive the law, he says nothing of the scandalous crime 
which the people were at the same time guilty of at the foot of the mountain. 
Moreover, as the sacred penmen do not conceal their sins, so they sometimes de- 
clare the meanness of their extraction ; which shows that they did not design to 
have honour from men. Thus Amos tells us that he ' was among the herdmen of 
Tekoa;'^ and that he was not bred up in the schools of the prophets, — for this is 
his meaning when he styles himself, ' no prophet, neither a prophet's son.'^ And 
the evangelists occasionally tell the world that they were sea-faring men, when 
Christ called them to be his disciples, and so were not bred up in the schools of 
learning among the Jews. 

k Numb. xi. 11—15. 1 Exod. iv. 10, 13. 19. m Acts vIk 24.^25. 

n Deiit. xxxii. 51, 52, compared with Numb. xx. 10, 11, 12. and Deut. iii. 25 — 27. 

oJer. XX. 7, 8, 14—16. p Psal li. the title compared with ver. 14. q 1 Tim. i. 13, i5. 

r Matt. X 3. s Chap. ix. 9. t Exod. xxxii. 2—5. u Vid. Jos. Antiq. 

X Amoj i 1. y Chap. vii. 14. 


The penmen of scripture were very i'ar from being crafty or designing men ; 
neither did they appear to be men that were able to manage such an imposture as 
a fabrication of the scriptures, or to frame a new scheme of religion, and make the 
world believe that it was from God. None that read the scriptures can find on the 
part of the penmen any appearance of design to advance themselves or families. 
Moses, indeed, had the burden of government ; but he did not affect the pomp and 
splendour of a king ; neither did he make any provision for his family, so as to ad- 
vance them to great honours in the world, which it was in his power to have done. 
The laws he gave rendered those of his own tribe, namely that of Levi, incapable 
of, and not designed for, kingly government ; and the highest honour of the priest- 
hood, which was fixed in that tribe, was conferred on his brother's children, nofron 
his own. The prophets Avere very few of them great men in the world, or advanced 
to great places in government. The esteem and reputation they had among the 
people at any time, was only for their integrity, and the honour conferred on them 
by God. The apostles also were plain men, who drove on no design to gain riches 
and honours from those to whom they preached the gospel. On the other hand, 
they expected nothing but poverty, reproach, imprisonment, and, at last, to die a 
violent death. How then can it be supposed that they were subtle designing men, 
who had some worldly advantage in view ? It is plain that they had no design but 
to do what God commanded, and to communicate what they had received from 
him ; and that they shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, whatever it 
cost them. The apostle Paul was so far from endeavouring to enrich himself by 
preaching the gospel, that he tells the church, ' I seek not yours, but you.'^ He 
foresaw that afflictions would attend his ministry, and stood constantly prepared to 
meet them. ' I have learned,' says he, 'in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be 
content, I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound, to be full and to 
be hungry, to abound and to suffer want.'^ He was not only content to bear 
afflictions, but when called to it, he professes himself to ' take pleasure in reproach, 
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.'^ 

Hitherto we have proved, that the penmen of scripture were men of such a 
character, that they would not designedly impose on mankind. But some will say, 
' Might they not be imposed on themselves, and think they were divinely inspired 
when they were not?' The Deists think them to have been mere fanatics, and 
esteem their writings no farther than as they contain the law of nature, or those doc- 
trines that are self-evident, or might have been invented by the reason of man ; 
and as such they receive them, without any regard to divine inspiration. Now if 
the sacred penmen were deceived or imposed on themselves, when they thought 
they received the scripture by divine inspiration, either they took what was the 
result of a heated fancy, of a strong imagination, or of raised aftections, for inspira- 
tion, as some of our modern enthusiasts have done, who have prefaced their warn- 
ings, as they call them, with, ' Thus saith the Lord,' &c., when the Lord did not 
speak by them ; or they were imposed on by a diabolic inspiration, — of which, in 
other cases, the world has had various instances, when Satan is said to have ' trans- 
formed himself into an angel of light,'" or has been suffered to deceive his followers, 
not only by putting forth ' signs and lying wonders,' but by impressing their minds 
with 'strong delusions,' whereby they have ' believed a lie, '"^ as supposing them- 
selves to be inspired, and, to give countenance thereto, has produced such violent 
agitations, tremblings, or distortions in their bodies, as have seemed preternatural, 
not much unlike those with which the heathen oracles were delivered of old, which 
were called by some a ' divine fury.' We shall show, however, that both parts of 
this supposition are without any shadow of reason. And as to the first part of it, 
we assert that the penmen of scripture did not mistake their own fancies for divine 
revelation. To suppose that they did so, is not only to conclude that all revealed 
religion is a delusion, but that the church in all ages, and amongst them the wisest 
and best of men, have been enthusiasts, and that all their hope, founded on this re- 
velation, has been no better than a vain dream. But it is one thing to assert, and 
another thing to prove ; and because they who take this liberty to reproach the 

z 2 Cor. xii. 14. a Philip, iv. II, 12. b 2 Cor. xii. 10. c 2 Cor. xi. 14. d 2 Thess. ii. 9, 11 


scriptures, pretend not to support tbeir charge by argument, it might seem less 
necessary to make a reply. Yet that our faith may be established, we shall briefly 
consider their objection. Now this charge is either brought against all that ever 
spake or wrote by divine inspiration, or only against some of them. If only some of 
tliem have been deluded, we might demand particular instances of any of the in- 
spired writers, who are liable to this charge, together with the reasons of their be- 
ing so. If it be said that some of them were men of less wisdom, or had fewer 
advantages to improve their natural abilities, than others ; we reply that God can 
make use of what instruments he pleases, and endow them with wisdom in an ex- 
traordinary way to qualify them for the service he calls them to, whereby the 
glory of his sovereignty more appears. If he pleases to choose ' the foolish things 
of the world to confound the wise, that no flesh should glory in his presence,'* 
shall he for this be called to an account by vain man ? And it is certain that some 
who have had the gift of inspiration, have, in consequence of it, been endowed with 
such wis<loni as has tended to confound their most malicious enemies. But we will 
suppose that they who bring the charge of delusion against the inspired writers, do 
not single out any among them, but accuse them all of enthusiasm. If this charge 
be grounded on the vain pretensions of some to inspiration in this age, in which we 
have no ground to expect this divine gift, will it follow, that divine revelation, sup- 
ported by incontestable evidence, was a delusion ? Or if it be said that some of 
old, whom we conclude to have been inspired, were called enthusiasts, as Elisha 
the prophet was by Jehu and his fellow-soldiers,^ nothing can be inferred from this, 
but that there were in all ages some Deists, who have treated things sacred with 
reproach and ridicule. But if anything that has the least appearance of an argu- 
ment be brought to support the charge of delusion, it will be this, that it is impos- 
sible for a person at any time certainly to know himself to be inspired. If this 
could be proved, it would be something to the purpose. And as we are obliged to 
assert the contrary, it will be demanded how it might be known that a person was 
under inspiration, or what are the certain marks by which we may conclude that 
the inspired writers were not mistaken in this matter. 

I confess, it is somewhat difficult to determine this question, especially since 
inspiration has so long ceased in the world ; but we shall endeavour to answer it, by 
laying down the following propositions. 1. If some powerful and impressive influ- 
ences of the Spirit of God on the souls of men, in the more common and ordinary 
methods of divine providence and grace, have been not only experienced, but their 
truth and reality discerned by those who have been favoured with them, so that, 
without pretending to inspiration, they had sufiicient reason to conclude that they 
were divine ; certainly when God was pleased to converse with men in the way 
which we call inspiration, it was not impossible for those who enjoyed the converse 
to conclude that they were inspired. 2. There were some particular instances, in 
which it seemed absolutely necessary, that they who received intimations from God 
in a supernatural way, should have infallible evidence that they were not mistaken ; 
as when, pursuant to a divine command, some great duty was to be performed by 
them in which it would be a dangerous thing for them to be deceived. Such was 
the case of Abraham's offering up his son. Such also was Jacob's going with his 
family into Egypt ; which was a forsaking of the promised land, an exposing of 
them to the loss of their religion, through the influence or example of those 
with whom they went to sojourn. And as it might be uncertain whether they should 
ever return or not, he needed a divine warrant, inquired of God as to what was 
his duty, and doubtless had some way to be infallibly assured of the divine will 
concerning it. s Moreover, our Saviour's disciples leaving their families, and going 
into the most remote parts of the world to propagate the gospel, which they believed 
themselves to have received in a supernatural way, evinces the necessity of their 
knowing themselves to be under a divine inspiration. And if they had been deceived, 
would they not have been reproved by Him whose intimations they are supposed 
to have followed in the simplicity of their hearts ? 3. There are various ways that 
might have been, and probably were, taken to convince the sacred penmen, beyond 

e 1 Cor. i. 27, 29. f 2 Kings ix. 11. g Gen. xlri. 2. 3, 4. 


all manner of doubt, that God spake to them bj inspiration. Sometimes extraor- 
dinary impressions were made on the soul of tne propiiot arising from the immediate 
access of God to it. Of this we have frequent instances in scripture ; as in the 
vision of Daniel which occasioned his 'comeliness to be turned into corruption, and 
his having no strength ;'•* and in the vision which John saw of our Saviour, the 
effect of which was his falling at his feet as dead.^ Many other instances of the 
like impressions might be referred to, .which were the result of the access of God 
to the soul, and which occasioned such a change in nature as could not but be discern- 
ed after the person had a little recovered himself. But if it be said that such impres- 
sions might be produced by an infernal spirit, I answer that, supposing this possi- 
ble, it must be proved that God would suffer it, — especially in an instance in which 
Lis own cause was so much concerned. Besides, it is not improbable that the soul 
of the prophet was sometimes brought into such a frame as resembled the heavenly 
state, as much as is possible for any one to attain to in this world. The experience 
of this made Jacob say, ' This is none other but the house of God, and this is the 
gate of heaven.''' Again, it is not improbable that God might work miracles of 
various kinds, to confirm the prophet's belief as to his being inspired ; though they 
are not particularly recorded in all the instances in which we read of inspiration. 
If it be objected, that it is not probable that miracles were always wrought to give 
this conviction, I would not be too peremptory in asserting the contrary, and would 
deem it sufficient to say that they were sometimes wrought. But doubtless there 
were some other concurring circumstances, which put conviction of inspiration 
out of all dispute ; for not to suppose this, is to reflect on the wisdom and goodness 
of God, as well as to depreciate one of the greatest honours which he has been 
pleased to confer upon men. Thus we have considered the unreasonableness of the 
charge brought against the inspired penmen of scripture, that they were imposed 
on by mistaking enthusiastic fancies for divine revelation. [See Note T, p. 71.] 

We shall now show that they were not imposed upon by the devil, or did not 
mistake impressions made by him on their minds, for divine revelation. Divine in- 
spiration was not occasional, or conferred in some particular instances, with a 
design to amuse men, or to confirm some doctrines which were altogether new, 
impure, and subversive of the divine glory in some ages of the world when men 
were universally degenerate, and had cast off God and religion ; but it was con- 
tinued in the church for many ages, when those for whose benefit it was given 
evidently appeared to be the peculiar objects of the divine regard. Now, God 
would never in such circumstances of time and things, have suffered the devil to 
delude the world, and that to such a degree as be the author of that rule of faith 
which he himself designed to make use of to propagate his interest, so that his 
people should be beholden to their grand enemy for those doctrines which were 
transmitted by inspiration. Satan, besides, would have acted against his own 
interest, had he inspired men to propagate a religion which has a direct tendency 
to overthrow his own kingdom ; for in that case, as our Saviour observes, ' His 
kingdom would be divided against itself. '^ As it is contrary to the wisdom and 
holiness of God to have suffered the imposition, so Satan would never have done 
it out of choice, and he has too much subtilty to have done it through mistake. The 
inspired writers, therefore, could not be imposed on by any infernal spirit. And we 
may add, that no delusion could have been practised by a good angel ; for if such 
an one had pretended in the matter of inspiration, to have imitated, or, as it were, 
usurped the throne of God, he would not have deserved the character of a good 
angel. It follows, therefore, that the sacred penmen could not have been inspired 
by any but God himself. 

Having considered that the penmen of scripture have faithfully transmitted to 
us what they received by divine inspiration, we must now take notice of an allega- 
tion meant not only to depreciate but to overthrow the divine authority of their writ- 
ings, that they were inspired as to only the substance or general idea of what they 
committed to writing, and were left to express this in their own words. Hence, it 
is alleged, there arose some contradictions occasioned by the treachery of their 

h Dan. x. 8. i Rev. i. 17. k Gen. xxviii. 17. 1 Matt. xn. 25, 26. 


memorle!', or the unfitness of their style to express what had been communicated 
to them. This allegation is founded on the difference of style observed in the 
various books o. scripture ; some of which are written in an elegant and lofty style, 
others clouded with mystical and dark expressions, — some more plain, others laid 
down in an argumentative way. These different modes of writing are supposed 
agreeable to the character of the several inspired writers ; so that, though the 
matter of scripture contains something divine, the words and phrases can hardly 
be reckoned to do so. As for some books of scripture, especially those that are 
historical, it is alleged that these might be written without inspiration, and that 
some of them were taken from histories which were previously in being, or from 
occurrences which were observed in the days in which the writers lived, and which 
were generally known and believed at the time when they took place. [See Note 
U, page 72.] And as for those books of scripture, which are more especially doc- 
trinal, it is supposed that there are many mistakes in them, but that these respect 
only doctrines of less importance, the providence of God having preservetl the 
writer from any gross or notorious blunders, subversive of natural religion ; so that, 
while the scripture may be deemed sufficient to answer its general design of propa- 
gating religion in the world, we are not obliged to conclude that it is altogether 
free from those imperfections wliich must attend such a kind of inspiration. 

If this account of scripture be true, it would hardly deserve to be called the 
word of God ; and we must vindicate it from the aspersions which the account 

As to the different styles observed in the various books, it does not follow from 
them, that the penmen were left to deliver what they I'eceived, in their own words. 
For certainly it was no difficult matter for the Spirit of God to furnish the writers 
with words as well as matter, and to inspire them to write in a style agreeable to 
what they used in other cases. If a person should send a message by a child, it is 
easy to put such words into his mouth as are agreeable to his common way of speak- 
ing, without leaving the matter to him to be expressed in his own words. On the 
.«anie principle, the inspired writers might be furnished by the Holy Ghost with 
words adapted to that style which they commonly used, without being left to them- 
selves to clothe general ideas with their own words. 

As to what is said concerning the historical parts of scripture, that it is not 
necessary for them to have been transmitted to us by divine inspiration, it may 
be replied, that these, as well as other parts, 'were written for our learning. ''" 
What is excellent in the character of persons, is designed for our imitation, — their 
blemishes and defects, to humble us under a sense of the universal corruption of 
human nature, — and the evil consequences of their wicked conduct, to awaken our 
fears, and warn us against exposing ourselves to such judgments as were intiicted 
as the punishment ot sin. And the account we have of the providential dealings 
of God with his church, in the various ages of it, is as truly of use as the doctrinal 
parts of scripture, to put us upon admiring and adoring the divine perfections. It 
is necessary, therefore, that we have the greatest certainty that the inspired 
writers have given us a true narration of things, and consequently that the ^ords, 
as well as the matter, are truly divine. — Some opponents of this doctrine, in order 
that they may a little palliate these sentiments, allow, as we have seen, that the in- 
spired writers, though left to the weakness of their memory, and the impropriety of 
their style, were notwithstanding, preserved, by the interposition of divine providence, 
from committing mistakes in matters of the highest importance. We reply, how- 
ever, that it will be very difficult for them to assign what doctrines are of greater, 
and what of less importance, in all the instances in which they occur ; or when 
providence has interposed to prevent the writers from running into mistakes, and 
Avhen it has not. We should still, therefore, be in uncertainty as to what doc- 
trines are delivered to us as they were received by inspiration, and what are mis- 
represented by the penmen of scripture ; and we should be ready to conclude that, 
in every section or paragraph, some things may be true, and others false, — some 
doctrines divine, and others human ; and we should, at the same time, have no 

m Rom. XV. 4. 
I. H 


certain rule to distinguish the cue from the other, and accordingly could not be sure 
that any part of scripture is the word of God. Such a revelation as the allegation 
supposes, would thus be of no real service to the church ; and our faith would bo 
founded in the wisdom, or rather weakness, of men, and our religion, depending on 
it, could not be truly divine. [See note V, page 74. J 

VI. Another argument, to prove the scriptures to be the word of God, may be 
taken from their antiquity and wonderful preservation for so many ages. Many 
other writings, of much later date, have been lost ; and nothing more is known of 
them, than that they once existed. Books were peculiarly liable to be lost, when 
there were none other than written copies of them, and these procured with 
much expense and difficulty, and consequently their number small. But the 
scripture has been preserved, not only against all oi'dinary accidents, but in spite 
of all the malice of its avowed enemies, as prompted hereunto by Satan, whose 
kingdom is overthrown by it. Had it been in his power, he would certainly have 
utterly abolished and destroyed it. Yet it has been preserved unto this day, and 
the preservation of it discovers the wonderful hand of providence. Would God 
have so remarkably taken care of a book, that pretends to advance itself by bear- 
ing the character of a divinely inspired writing, if it did not really possess this 
character ? — This leads us to the next argument ; which contains evidence more 
convincing than any other ; or which, at least, if added to the arguments already 
given, will, I hope, make it more abundantly appear that the scriptures are the 
word of God. The argument is this : 

VII. The divine authority of scripture is attested by God himself. And if, in 
other cases, ' we receive the witness of men,' surely, as the apostle observes, ' the 
witness of God is greater.'" Now the testimony of God to the authority of scripture 
is twofold ; First, extraordinary ; Secondly, ordinary. The extraordinary testi- 
mony of God is that of miracles. The ordinary is taken from the use which he 
makes of scripture in convincing and converting sinners, and building believers up 
in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation. 

As to the extraordinary testimony of God, he has attested the truth of scrip- 
ture by miracles. A miracle is an extraordinary divine work, whereby something 
is produced contrary to the common course and laws of nature. Thus the magi- 
cians of Egypt confessed, that one of the miracles which Moses wrought was ' the 
finger of God.'° There are many undeniable instances of miracles recorded in scrip- 
ture, both in the Old and in the New Testament ; and these being above the power 
of a creature, and works peculiar to God, they contain a divine testimony to the 
truth which is confirmed by them. Now when we say that the divine authority of 
scripture was confirmed by miracles, we mean, that God has wrought miracles to 
testify his approbation of most of the prophets and apostles who were the inspired 
writers of it, whereby their mission was declared to be divine. And we cannot think 
that God, who knows the hearts and secret designs of men, would employ or send 
any to perform so great and important a work, if he knew them to be disposed to 
deceive and impose on the world, or that they would, in any instance, call that his 
word which they did not receive from him. The reason why men sometimes em- 
ploy unfaithful servants about their work, is that they do not know them, — they 
never do it out of choice ; and we cannot suppose tliat God, who perfectly knows 
the hearts of men, would do so. His having not only employed the penmen of 
scripture as his servants, but confirmed their mission, and testified his approbation 
of them, by miracles, is, therefore, a ground of conviction to us tliat they 
would not have alleged the scriptures to be the word of God if they were not so. 
And that miracles have been wrought for this end, I think, needs no proof. Not 
only are we assured of this by the report of those prophets whose mission is sup- 
posed to have been confirmed by the miracles ; but the fact was universally known 
and received in the church, in those times in which they were wrought ; and it is 
not pretended to be denied by the most inveterate enemies. That Moses, several 
of the prophets, our Saviour, and his apostles, wrought miracles, can hardly be 
reckoned a matter in controversy, for it is a kind of scepticism to deny it. [See 

n 1 John V. 9. o Exod. viii. 19. 


Note W, page 7G.] It is certain, also, that in working their miracles they appealed 
to God for the confirmation of their mission. Elijah, for example, explicitly did 
this, when he prayed, ' Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known 
this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant ; and that I have 
done all these things at thy word ;'p and we read, that God answered him accord- 
ingly, ' by the fire from heaven consmning the burnt sacrifice,' «fec.i Such appeals 
to God, and answers from him, have attained their end, by giving conviction to 
those for whose instruction the miracles were wrought. When God, through the 
instrumentality of Elijah, raised the dead child to life, the woman of Zarephath con- 
fessed that by this she ' knew that he was a man of God, and that the word of the 
Lord, in his mouth, was truth.' "" And it is not denied by the Jews, the most irre- 
concilable enemies to Christianity, that what is related in the New Testament, 
concerning the miracles of our Saviour and his apostles, was true in fact. The only 
thing they deny is, that miracles were a divine testimony, or that they were wrought 
by the hand of God. And the common reproach which is cast on these miracles is, 
that they were wrought by magic ; just as the Jews of old objected to our Saviour, 
that ' he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.'^ But his reply to 
them was unanswerable, — that this objection would argue ' Satan divided agamst 
himself,' — intimating, that Satan would never, to overthrow the Christian religion, 
use means which he could not but know was more conducive than any other to the 
establishment of it. 

It may be objected, that though miracles were wrought to confirm the mission of 
several of the prophets, yet none were wrought to confirm the divine authority of 
the scriptures. It is sufficient, however, if we can prove that God has given his 
testimony, that he made choice of those prophets to declare his mind and will to 
the world, that he has accordingly deemed them fit to be credited, and that they 
were not men liable to any suspicion of carrying on a design to deceive the world ; 
for if God not only calls them holy men, as he does the inspired writers in general, 
when he says, * Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,'* 
but also wrought miracles to prove tliat they were his servants and messengers, he 
gives as convincing a testimony as if every part of scripture had been confirmed 
by a miracle. Besides, it is not unreasonable to suppose that tlie church which 
flourished when the various parts of scripture were written, had some extraordinary 
prools of their divine authority ; since, in many ages miracles were very common. 
At the same time, too, that the penmen of scripture had the gift of inspiration, 
others had, what the apostle calls, 'a discerning of spirits,'" and were enabled to 
know whether the prophet who pretended to inspiration, was really inspired. This, 
to me, seems very probably the sense of the apostle, when he says, ' The spirits of 
the prophets are subject to the prophets;'^ for in the context he discourses of 
prophets speaking by divine revelation, and of others judging of them. [See Note 
X, page 77.] Now if there was this extraordinary gift of discerning of spirits in the 
ages in which particular books of scripture were written, the persons who enjoyed it 
had, Irom the Holy Spirit himself, a convincing testimony to the inspiration of the 
prophets and apostles ; and by this means the divine authority of scripture was infal- 
libly known to them, and, at the same time, imparted to others for their farther 
confirmation in this great truth. 

It may further be objected, that as we are not now to expect miracles for con- 
firming our faith as to the divine origin of scripture, we cannot be said to have a 
divine testimony. But the confirming of divine revelation by a constant repetition 
of miracles is not necessary. God did not design to make the dispensation of mir- 
acles too common, or to continue the evidence it afibrds, when there was no necessity 
for it. When the Scribes and Pharisees came to our Saviour, desiring to ' see a sign ' 
from him, J he would not comply with their unreasonable demand. The apostle Paul 
takes notice that the Jews generally in his time ' required a sign ;'^ but, instead of com- 
plying with their request, he refers them to the success of the gospel, which is ' the 

p 1 Kiiipsxviii. 3G. q Ver. H8. r 1 Kings xvii. 21 — 24.. s Matt. xii. 24. 

t 2 P.t. i 21. u 1 Cor. xii. 10. x 1 Cor. xiv. 32. y Matt. xii. 3«. 

z 1 Cur. i. 22. 


{lower of God to salvation.' as the only testimony which was then needful. And oui 
Saviour, in the parable ol the rich man and Lazarus, intimates tliat the truth of divine ' 
revelation has been so well attested, that ' they who believe not Moses and tho 
prophets, would not be persuaded though one rose from the dead.''' Now, since we 
have such convincing evidence, it is an unreasonable degree of obstinacy to refuse to 
believe the divine authority of scripture, merely because miracles are not now 
wrought. To demand farther proof, is no other than a tempting of God, or a 
disowning that what he lias done is sufficient for our conviction ; and before we say 
that for want of the evidence of continued miracles our faith is not founded on a 
divine testimony, we must be able to prove that it is not founded on such a tes,ti- 
raony formerly given. The contrary of this, however, is undeniably evident ; for 
the reality of miracles is confirmed by the confession of the church in all ages. 
We have, therefoi'e, as much ground to believe tlie divine authority of scripture, as 
though miracles were wrought every day for its confirmation. This leads us to in- 

VIII. How far the testimony of the church is to be regarded as evidence that 
the scriptures are the word of God. The church has in all ages given its suffrage 
to the divine origin of scripture, how much soever it has perverted the sense of it. 
That this argument may be set in a true light, let us consi;ler what the papists say 
to this matter, when they appeal to the church, to establish the divine authority of 
scripture ; and wherein we diifer from theiiT ; and how far the testimony o. the 
church is to be regarded as a means for our farther conviction. We are 
far from asserting, with the papists, that the church's testimony alone is to be re- 
garded, without the internal evidence of scripture ; as though it were the principal, 
if not the only foundation on which our faith is built. If, indeed, they could prove 
the infallibility of the cliurch, we should more readily conclude the infallibility of 
its testimony ; but all their attempts to prove this are vain and trifling. Moreover, 
we do not by the word church understand altogether the same thing which they 
do ; for they make it mean a council, convened by him whom they pretend to be tlie 
visible head, to decree and establish matters of faith ; and so, according to them, a 
majority of votes of a body of men, every one of whom is liable to error, must de- 
termine, and give a divine sanction to, our faith. Kor do we think that those 
whom they call the fathers of the church, are to be any farther regarded than as 
they prove what they assert ; since there is scarcely any error or absurdity which 
some one or more of them have notgiven in to. We also distinguish between the 
church's testimony, that the scripture was given by divine inspiration, and 
the sense they give of many of its doctrines. As to the latter, the church has 
given us ground enough to conclude that its judgment is not much to be depended 
upon. We find, however, that, in all ages, it has given sufficient testimony to this 
truth, that the scriptures are the word of God, and that God has proved them to 
be so by the miracles which he wrought. If God, then, has had a church in the 
world, or a remnant whom he has preserved iaithful, and if their faith, and ail 
their religion, and hope of salvation, have been founded on the truth that the scrip- 
tures are the word of God, we cannot altogether refuse to believe that the scriptures 
are of divine authority. But there is yet another argument which we lay more 
stress on, namely, the use which God has made of scripture. We remark, there- 
fore, as is farther observed in this answer, that, 

IX. The scriptures are proved to be the word of God, by their power to convince 
and convert sinners, and to comfort and build up believers to salvation. The work 
of conviction and conversion is, and has been at all times, experienced by those 
who have had any right or claim to salvation. Not only have various instances of 
this occurred in all ages ; but the very being of the church, which supposes and 
depends on it, is an undeniable proof of its reality. And as this work is truly 
divine, so the scriptures have been the principal, if not the only direct means 
by which it has been brought about. We have never had any other rule, or 
standard of faith or revealed religion ; nor has the work of grace been ever 
begun, or carried on, in the souls of any, without it. Hence it evidently appears, 

a Luke xvi. 31. 


that God makes use of scripture to propagate and advance his interest in the world, 
and that he has given his church ground to expect his presence with it, in all his 
ordinances. They are obhged, on all occasions, to pay a due regard to scripture ; 
and, in so doing, they have found that God has, by means of it, manifested him- 
self to them, and made them partakers of spiritual privileges, which have been the 
beginning of their salvation. But it cannot be supposed tliat God would make this 
use of his word, and thereby put such an honour upon it, had it been an imposture, 
)r borne the specious but false pretence of being stamped with his authority ; for 
diat would be to give countenance to a lie, which is contrary to the holiness of his 

Thus we have considered the several arguments, whereby scripture appears to 
1)0 the word of God. But since multitudes are not convinced by them, we have, 
in the close of this answer, an account of the means whereby Christians come to a 
full persuasion as to this matter, — and that is the testimony of the Spirit in the 
heart of man. By this we do not understand that extraordinary impression wliich 
some of old have been favoured with, who are said to have been ' moved by the 
Holy Ghost,' or to have had an extraordinary 'unction Irom the Holy One,' where- 
by they were led into the knowledge of divine truths in a way of supernatural 
illumination. This we pretend not to ; for extraordinary gilts have ceased. It 
does not follow, however, that the Spirit does not now influence the minds of believ- 
ers in an ordinary way, whereby they are instructed and confirmed in all necessary 
truths, and particularly in this, that the scriptures are the word of God. No privi- 
lege referring to salvation was ever taken away, without some other, subservient to the 
same end, having been substituted in its room ; — unless indeed a notorious forfeiture 
has been made of it, and the church, by apostacy, has excluded itself from an in- 
terest in the divine regard. And as this cannot be said of the gospel-church, in 
all the ages since extraordinary giits have ceased, we must conclude, that, in the ab- 
sence of former methods for vindicating the divine authority of scripture, believers 
have, instead of them, an inward conviction wrought by the Spirit ot God, agreeable 
to his present method of acting ; otherwise the present dispensation is, in a very 
material circumstance, much inferior to that in which God discovered his mind 
and will to man in an extraordinary way. 

But that v/e may explain what we mean by the inward testimony of the Spirit 
in the hearts of men, whereby they are iully persuaded the scriptures are the 
word of God, let it be considered, 1. That it is something more than simply a power 
or faculty of reasoning, to prove the scriptures to be divine ; for that is common to 
all men, while this is a special privilege given only to believers. Moreover, there 
may be a power of reasoning, and yet a mistaken exercise oi it ; so that this is not 
sufficient fully to persuade us that the scriptures are the word of God, and is some- 
thing inferior to what is intended in this answer. 2. The inward testimony of the 
Spirit in the hearts of men is something short of inspiration. Hence, though the 
scripture was known to be the word of God by the Spirit of inspiration, so long as 
that continued in the church ; yet that privilege having now ceased, the internal 
testimony of the Spirit contains a lower degree of illumination, which has nothing 
miraculous attending it. 3. It is not an enthusiastic impulse, or strong impression 
upon our minds, whereby we conclude a thing to be true, because we think it is so. 
This we by no means allow of; since our own fancies are not the standard of truth 
how strong soever our ideas of things may be. Therefore, 4. This inward testi- 
mony of the Spirit contains in it a satisfying and establishing persuasion, that the 
scriptures are the word of God, — a persuasion supported by other evidences and con- 
vincing arguments, and particularly by that which is taken Irom the use which 
God makes of the scripture, in beginning and carrying on the work of grace in the 
souls of believers ; and this firm persuasion we find sometimes so deeply rooted in 
their hearts, that they would sooner die ton thousand deaths than part with scrip- 
ture, or entertain the least slight thought of it, as though it were not divine. And 
certainly there is a special hand of God in this persuasion, which we can call no 
other than the inward testimony of the Spirit to the divine authority of scripture, 
[See Note Y, p. 77.] 


[Note O. The Genuineness and Credibility of Scripture — Dr. Ridgeley, before discussing the in- 
spiration of scripture, " premises some things respecting the nature, necessity, and possibility of 
revelation ;'' and when stating his third remark on them, says, " These points must be made appar- 
ent, else it is vain to attempt to give arguments to prove the scriptures to be the word of God." 
But it is scarcely less vain to make this attempt without first proving the genuineness and credibility 
of the books of scripture. Some of the most important arguments for the inspiration of the books, 
assume that the genuineness and credibility of them are admitted, or suppose previous proof to have 
been offered quite sufficient to convince the judgment of any man wlio is not determined to reject 
all evidence. 1 shall, therefore, give, in as compressed a form as possible, an outline of proofs for 
the genuineness and credibility of the books of the New Testament. As to the books ot the Old 
Testament, they will stand accredited by many of the argumejits, just as if these were adduced to 
support them ; and, especially, they are so abundantly vouched for both by direct statements and 
by multitudinous quotations in the books of the New, that separate evidence of their genuineness 
and credibility, after offering it on behalf of the New Testament, is altogether superfluous. 

The Genuineness of the Books of the New Testament. 

A book is genuine which was written by the author to whom it is ascribed. Some of the books 
of the New Testament profess, in general terms, to have been written by immediate disciples of 
Christ, and are proved to be genuine, simply if proved to be apostolical ; others profess to have 
been written respectively by Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude, and, in order to be proved gen- 
uine, must be severally traced to the individuals whose names they bear. Evidences of genuine- 
ness, as they affect the former class, may be not only satisfactory, but redundant; or they may be 
such as not alone prove the books to be apostolical, but discover and authenticate tlieir respective 
authors. Such proofs as I shall advance, apply, for the most, to all the books of the New Testa- 
ment, and contain subsidiary evidence, either expressed or implied, which bears on the books in 
detail, or on such of them as may be individually mentioned. I shall give them in the fewest words 
possible, and must rely on the reflection of my readers for eliciting their force, and giving them a 
practical application. 

I. No reason can be urged against the genuineness of the books of the New Testament, which 
does not operate with vastly greater force against any of the ancient writings which are universally 
received as genuine. Listen to the reasonings of an infidel against an epistle of Paul or one of the 
four gospels, and apply them to Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Eiieid, Herodotus' History, and similar 
works; and you will find that they throw doubts on all these received books of antiquity, long 
before they raise a difficulty respecting a book of the New Testament. Tested by infidel argu- 
ment, Paul may be the undoubted author of the epistles ascribed to him, after Homer, Virgil, and 
Herodotus are made to be suspected as fabricated or merely supposititious names. Yet the 
works ascribed to these authors are universally received as genuine. Why, then, should the gen- 
uineness of Paul's epistles be called in question ? 

II. If the books of the New Testament had not been apostolic, thev would have been ascribed 
to the most eminent persons of the age in which they profess to have been written. Other exist- 
ing documents than they profess to be apostolic, but are easily proved to be spurious; and they 
are ascribed to Nicodemus, to the whole college of the apostles, and even to our blessed Lord. 
The object of the fabricators was to stamp them with iinportance. But \\hat fabricator would have 
ascribed professingly apostolic books to such men as Maik, Luke, or Jiuie, who, as compared to 
other immediate disciples of Christ, were always obscure or secoiii:ary |)tr.-oiis? Or what fabrica- 
tor would have passed by Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, I'liilij), feimon, J;iines the son ot Zebe-. 
dee, and all the seventy disciples, assigning only meagre writings to e\tn Petii', John, Matthew, 
James the Less, atid Jude, while he ascribed no fewer than thirteen books to 'the \oung man 
Saul,' who was 'as one born out of due time?' What fabricator, in particular, would have for- 
borne to ascribe some leading wiitings to the Lord Jesus? 

III. The style of the New Testament is peculiarly such as the writers to whom the several 
books are ascribed might be supposed to employ. 

1. It is not classical. That, indeed, of the books ascrib^ to Paul and Luke approaches to be 
so ; but that of the other books is eminently what a polished or native Greek would have pro- 
nounced anomalous and inelegant. Now, Paul and Luke were learned men, the former * brought 
up at the feet of Gamaliel,' and the latter *a physician ;' while the other reputed authors were 
all professedly illiterate. 

2. It abounds in Hebrew and Syriac idioms. A Grecian would have written pure Greek; a 
Syrian would have written mere translated Syriac; a religious Jew, unacquainted with Christianity, 
would have written wholly in the idiom of Hebrew; — but ordy men situated exactly as the apostles, 
could have woven, upon a general texture of Greek, such a peculiar fringing of Hebrew and Syriac, 
as is found in the New Testament. 

3. It wants the marks of every age but the apostolic. The nearest kindred writings to those of 
the New Testament, viewed simply as to subject and style, are the books of Maccabees, and 
the works of the earliest Christian fathers. But though the former immediately preceded the 
apostolic age, and the 1 itter immediately succeeded it, both are characterized by a style essentially 
different from that of the New Testament. A cognate style to that of spurious existing books, 
which proless to be apostolic, may be lound in various eai ly writers ; but no style can be found 
'•ogiiale to that which is ascribed to Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, and their fellow-uriters. 

IV. The characteristiis or peculiar statements of the buoks, minutely .igree with the position 
and character of the reputed autliors. 

L They contain many intimate allusions to Jewish customs and ceremonies. Nov the authors 


*'ere Jews, who had witnessed the rustorns of the Jewish nation from infancy, and had often acted 
a part in both their civil and their religious ceremonies. 

2. Tiiey display intimate arquaintance, not alone with the practice of the Roman government in 
Jiid a. hut with the local feelnigs and opinions which it excited. Just such a political condition 
as thev impliedly describe, is proved by Josephus and other neutral authors to have existed at the 
prt-cise epoch when the books profess to have been written. Now the authors lived in Judea, 
uiuK-r the Roman government, daily witnessing the conduct of governois and the governed. 

3. Some of the hooks minutely allude to the manners, feelings, rural occupations, or industrious 
hat)its of the common people. Now the reputed writers of these books were poor men, belonging 
to the humblest class of society, who had personally mingled in every scene ot humble lite. 

4. Others of the books, e. g. the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistles of Paul, contain lemarks 
of striking but remote coincidence with the ascertained condition, in politics, science, history, oi 
topography, of the provinces of the Roman empire. Now the reputed writers of these books per 
sonally traversed the districts to which their remarks apply, and held intimate intercourse with the 
native population. 

V. Some early enemies of Christianity, such as Celsus, Porphyry, and the Emperor Julian, at- 
tacked the books of the New Testament in form, and laboured to destroy their credit, yet they 
never called in question their genuineness. Julian wrote in the fourth century, Porphyry in the 
third, and Celsus in the reign of Adrian, or about the middle of the second; and they all, espe- 
cially Celsus and Porphyry, enjoyed the amplest opportunity of assailing the books by every possi- 
ble argument of coincidence or testimony ; yet they felt constrained to admit their genuineness, 
and were obliged to rest contented with cavilling at their inspiration. 

VI. The names and transactions of the reputed authors are recorded by writers of the first and 
second centuries. ' Paul' is spoken of by Clement of the first century, and Ignatius of the 
second; 'Paul and the rest of the apostles,' by Polycarp of the second century; 'Peter and 
John,' by Igiiatius of the second century ; ' Peter,' by Clement of the first century, and Papias 
of the second; and 'John and others who had seen the Lord,' by Irenseus of the second century. 
Now demerit, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, and Irenseus, are all aiimitted to be genuine writers, 
and, along with about twenty others, most of whom also make personal references to the apostles, 
are the only extant Clnijtuin authors previous to the third century, by \\ bom the penmen of the 
New Testament could have l)een noticed. They all lived so near the period when the books of the 
New Testament profess to ha\e been written, that had any imposture existed, they could not have 
failed to detect it, and must have traced it to the very age in which several of the apostles survived. 
But they mention the perjmen of the New Testament with confidence, and speak of theiii as hav- 
ing occupied exactly the position in which their reputed authorship ot the books represents them 
to have been placed. 

VII. Most ot the books of the New Testament are mentioned singly or collectively as existing 
documents by the early Christian writers. 'Matthew' is mentioned by Papias; 'Maik' by 
Papias; * Tlie Four Gospels' by Cyprian; 'John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark,' by Tertullian; 
' the gospels' by Justin i\lartyr ; ' the Scriptures of the divine Gospels,' by Eusebius ; 'the Histor. 
ical Books,' by Justin Martyr; 'the gospels and apostles,' by Ignatius; 'the Acts,' by Origen and 
Cyprian ; ' First Corinthians,' by Clement ; ' Ephesians' by Ignatius ; ' St. Paul's epistles,' by Ter- 
tullian ; and ' the Scr'ptures of the Lord,' by Theophilus. Now Clement wrote in the first cen- 
tury, ignaiius, Papias, Tertullian, Theophilus, and Justin Martyr in the second, Cjprian and 
Origen in the third, ajui Eusebius early in the fourth ; and all these writers treat the books \\ hich 
they respectively mention, as of received and of undoubted genuineness. 

VIII. Tlie books ot the New Testament were read and expounded as apostolic documents, or as 
the writings of the penmru to whom they are severally ascribed, in the public assemblies of the 
early Christians. This fact is attested by Eusebius, by Cyprian, and even by Tertullian, and by 
Justin Mart\r. The third and lourth of these authors wrote in the second century; and all the 
four knew and referred to the public practice of the Christian churches, from the time of the 
apostles. The whole body of Christians from before the da\s of Justin Martyr are, in con>equence, 
proved to have received the books of the New Testament as genuine. Or, more strictly, these 
books, as reputed apostolic writings, are traced up the broad stream of the whole Christian com- 
munity, till the very (!a)s in which their professed authors lived. Could they have been fabricated 
and falsely imputed, under the very eyes ol the men to whom they are ascribed? 

IX. Several of the hooks are quoted, as existing documents and as apostolic writings, by some of 
the earliest Christian writers. The Gospel according to Matthew is quoted by Barnabas, Clement, 
and Hermas, the only extant Christian authors of the first century, and by Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin 
Martyr, and Theophilus, four of the very few extant authors of the second. The Go>pel according 
to Mark is quoted b) Justin Martyr and Athenagoras, both of the second century. The Gospel 
according to Luke is quoted by Clement, Hermas, Pol v carp, Justin Martyr, and Athenagoras. 
The Gospel according to John is quoted by Hermas, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Theophilus. The 
hook of Acts is quoted by Hermas and Polycarp. The Epistle to the Romans is quoted by Cle- 
ment. But all these are instances of quotation in only the few and scanty extant genuine writnigs 
ol one hundred jears succeeding the completion of the books of the New Testament. Let iiistanccii 
be taken from the copious and more numerous writings of the period which followed, and the list 
of quotations will he unmanageably long. 

X. Some of the books are minutely described, as to their received authorship and contents, by 
early writers. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are described by Clement and Eusebius; and 
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and A^ts, by Irenaeus of Lyons. 

XI. Formal catalogues of the books, ascribing them to their respective authors, are given by 
early writers. Catalogues of precise and conclusive character are given in particular by Origen, 


Athanasnis. Cyr'l, and Jrrome. Tl^ix fnct is decisive, not alone rs to tlie ppnuineiiess of tlie books, 
l)iit iis to tlie ranoiiicity of the New TestHmciit. The fatnlot'iits are not li^ts of \\liat the individ- 
ual writers esteemed apostolic (toeumf iits, but lists of what had hi en received a'* such by the Chris- 
tian clinrch -s. from the earliest pi liod to the time at «hich tlnv severally wrote ; and they consti- 
tute an evidence of jjenuineness whch applies to all the hooks, and is stampt with the concurrent 
assent or pccu'nulated test'nionv of the whole primitive Ciiristian cotniniinity. 

XII. The books of the New Testament were collated, commented on, ami translated in the early 
centuries of the Christian era. 

I. Il.iMronies of the books were written by Ammonius, and by Julius Africanus, both of the 
third century. 

?. roMiii ei'taries on the hooks were written in 170 by Tatian, in 190 by Pantaenus, and in the 
fourth century by tio fewer than fourteen authors. 

H. Versions of the books were made, in the first centurv, into the Svriac language; in the second, 
into the L:itin an<l the Sahidic ; in the fourth, into tht' Etlnopic; and in the fifth, into the Coptic. 

Now. the Harmonies, the Commentaries, and the Versions, bad each the force both of a cata- 
logue, and of a minute description of contents; and thev all piove the ginu'nrness of the books as 
ri'stii!t: on concurrent primitive testimony, and on the universal consent of the ages imme(;iately 
succeeding the apostolic. 

XIII. M:iny \ ery ancient manuscripts of the books have been found in countries nuitually distant 
and uncoimected. The existence of ancient manuscripts is, in most cases, the sole, or almost the 
sole evidciic ' for the genuineness of any recei V( d w ritings of aiitif|uity. Hut ihr ancient manu>cri()ts, 
in the case of all other works, are few. collusive, ami of recent date, compaied to tiiose in ihe case of 
the books of the New Testament. The ancient mamiscripts. in the latter case, are so independent of 
one another as to the circiunstances in which they were wiitten, that they belontr to at least three 
great classes, all as separate from one another as distance of coutitry, improbability of iiit< rcourse, 
and diffi rence of vernacular tongue, among the respective classes of transcribers, could pofsibly 
have ri ndered them. 'J'he manuscripts are also very old : of those still in preservation, one bears 
maiks of 'he third century, two of the fourth, several of the iiith or sixth, and maiiv of the cen- 
turies before the twelfth. Tin se are all in the Gri ek language, and are indi- pendt nt of manuscripts, 
some of tbiiii equally ancient, of the earliest versions. Now, e;ich manuscript — treating it as any 
man, e\'i'n an infidel, treats an ancient manuscript of a Greek or Latin classical author — is in itself 
a complete proof of the genuineness of the hooks of the New Testament. How strong, then, is 
the evidence from a luimber of manuscripts, great, far beyond any parallel, uncoUusive, unconnect- 
ed, extremely ancient, ami all concurring to ascribe the l)ooks to their several r( puted aiithois! 

Obj'. (t.'ons to the genuineness of the books of lie New Testament, either such as may l)e coii- 
ceivei!, or such as infidels have actually advanced, are, foi' the most part, surh as some of the pre- 
ceding aigtiments directly and tliorouf;hl\ answer. All which these arguments do not cosnpletely 
dispose of. may be comprehended in two. 

First : The concurrent testimonies ol Christian « riters, as to the genuineness of the books, might 
have been det-igned. 

But where is there reasonable ground of suspicion that they were so? The objection is founded 
on a gratuitous conjecture, and cannot be suppoited by even the shadow of evidence. No instance 
of apparent collusion has been adduced as to even any two testimonies. How then can we imagine 
collusion as to the whole? 

Again: many of the testimonies are indirect, parenthetical, or incidental. None of them «ear 
the appearance of having been written as testimonies, or with the view either of being (jnoted as 
authority, or of authenticating the apos!olic writings. Tliey consist simply of passing allusions, 
and never constitute the main aim of their auth.ors. But had they been designe<l, they would have 
been direct, pointed, and formal, and would, at the same time, have been much more minute and 
nuuerous than we find them. 

Further: the testimonies, as (o the language, periods, and coimtiies, in which they were written, 
were separate from one another, remote, unconnected, and independent. Some were v\ritten in 
Latin, and others in Greek, the former at the extreme west, and the latter at the e.vtreme east of 
the civii;zed world, at a time when tew persons who ktiew either language were acquainted with 
the otlur. Some were written in Syria, some in Cappadocia, some in A:ia Minor, some in Greece, 
some in Et'ypt, some in Carthage, some in Italy, and some in G<iul, some in the first century, sou)e 
in the second, in the third, in the fourth, when tlie m.ans of intt rcourse between even neighbour- 
ing provinces were more seldom and imperfect, th;in tlio.-e whiih e.xist now between the most dis- 
tant rtgions of the globe. Collusion, in such < ircumstances, was n:orally and even physically im- 

II. Why are not other extant documents than those of the New Testament, which profess to be 
apostolic, admitted to he genuine? 

First: th»y contain only matter which is directly borrowed from the received books, with a few 
trifling and uncorroborated additions. In other wor<is, their claim to apostoliiity rests wbolh on 
their having clumsily pirated such portions of the received books, as could most easily be subjected 
to change of phraseology. 

Again : no documents professing to be apostolic, except those in the received canon, are quoted 
or mentioned by any writers of the first, second, or third century, or possess any of those evidences 
of genuineness which have been detailed in support of the received books. 

The Credibility of the Boohs of the New Testament. 

A book is crcdibl.', the statements of which are worthy to be believed. Credibilitv is op- 
Dosed to 8puriou;-noss of matter, as genuintiitss is opposed to spurioll^nesii ol aiilhoisluD. 'J'he 


books of the New Testament having been authentically traced to tlieir reputed authors, are next 
proved to contain only such statements as are tiue. Their credibility refers, in the tirst iiist:iiice, 
to facts, and then, by implication, to doctrines. NVliat they state as sentiments or moral principles 
are all based on what they state as having been events. On the truth of tlieir narratives turns the 
credibility of their entire contents. My proofs, therefore, shall reter to the books of the New 
Testament, chiefly, as historical documents. 

I. The books do no more than assign adequate causes for effects which are known, on numerous 
testimonies, to have been produced, and describe eflfects naturally arising from causes which all par- 
ties admit to have existed. 

1. They only assign adequate causes for known effects. No person doubts that, from the middle 
of the reign of Tiberius, Christianity, which had just sprung into iieing, S()read in the lace of unex- 
ampled persecutions, and amidst the most adverse circumstances, simply by the power of persuasion, 
and with irrepressible and amazing rapidity, throughout the civilizid world. What causes but 
those assigiie<t in the narratives of the New Testament, can account for an occurrence so utterly 
out of the ordinary course of human experience? Many other admitted events might be named, 
adequate causes for which are assigned only in the books of the Ne>v Testament. 

2. The books only describe the natural effects of known causes. Let any man examine the ad- 
mitted history of the Jews, let him study in particular tiie causes whicli hail remot« ly and recently 
operated to (orm their character, and mould their condition ; and he will fiiid in the New Testa- 
ment copious accounts of their opinions, prejudices, usages, and tempdral state, — exactly such 
effects as the combination of remote and recent intluences lo which tlie\ had b> en subjected, must 
naturally have produced. The death of Christ, the conversion of many Jews to Ciiristianity, the 
steadfast endurance by Christians of severe persecution, as well as many other great causes of 
moulding opinion, revolutionizing society, or otherwise strongly influencing events, are admitted, 
on heathen or neutral testimony, to have existed ; and they necessarily led exactly to such results 
as are regularly detailed in the statements of the New Testament. 

II. The books were written in circumstances which rendered imposture or fabrication imprac- 

1. The occurrences which they record were public, well-kno\in, and capable of being tested by 
the evidence of ad verse witnesses. The leading events had been the most public and remarkable 
Iff tl.e iige in which they occurred, and had drawn the general attention of the population among 
whom the books were published. Even the lesser events were all matter of notoriety before the 
hooks were written. Almost every occuirence stated in the New Testament had been a subject 
ot investigation and curiosity among the people to whose perusal it was submitted. A fabricator 
would have laid the scene of his events either in a secluded district, or in regions and times far re- 

2. The people among whom the books uere published had the strongest jealousy of their object," 
and the most violent hostility to their doctrines. The Jews would silt every recorded fact to the 
bottom. No effort would they leave untried to detect falsitication, exaggeration, or even circum- 
staniial discrepancv. A fabricator either ^^ould not have dared to publish under their surveillance, 
or, had he dared, would instantly have been detected and disgraced. 

3. The writers of the books, though united in one bond of faith, were scattered and mutually 
remote. Matthew wrote in Judea, Mark at Rome, Luke in Greece, and John at Ephesus ; and 
the first, second, and third of, whose writings embrace the same topics, and are those of 
the books which most nearly resemble one another, wrote about the same period, Matthew and 
Mark having written in the year 64, and Luke in the year 64 or 63. Collusion among writers so 
I'emote from one another, and having no possibility ol mutual communication before they severally 
published, was physically impossible. Paul, again, between whose epistles and the book of Acts 
there are many coincidences, wrote ;it Corinth, at Ephesus, in Macedonia, and chiefly at Rome, 
Irom the year 52 till the year 63; while Luke, the author of the book of Acts, wrote in Greece 
about the year 63. 

IIL The writer? of the books were competent narrators of the facts which they recorded. 

1. They were either, as in the majority of instances, personal witnesses of the tacts, or, as in the 
case of Mark, >vho acted in a measure as the amanuensis of Peter, they received their information 
immediately irom witnesses. Who were so competent to narrate the life and sayings of Christ as 
Matthew, Peter, John, and the other apostles uho lived with him througiiout the period of his 
ministry, and wJio, either personally or through Mark and Luke — themselves no mean witnesses — 
compiltd the four gospels? Who so competent to narrate the voyages and numerous journeys of 
Paul, as Luke, who, for the most part, was his fellou -traveller ? Or who so competent to describe 
the condition of the Ephesian, Galatian, Thessalonian, Corinthian, and Roman churches as Paul, u ho 
either planted them, or witnessed their infant condition, and in every case superintendeil their pro- 
gress? Or who so competent to describe the seven chur.ches of Asia, and the sect of Nicolaitanes 
or Gnostics, as John, who long lived amongst them, and watched their departure from apostolic 
Christianity ? 

2. The w riters furnish no appearance of credulity. On the contrary, they stand unequalled, un- 
approached, and perhaps unimitated, in the remarkable property of narrating stupendous or uncom- 
mon events in a style so dispassionate as to prove the utter absence of any play of imagination. 

3. They were not more subject than other men to mistakes, nor were exposed to imposition. 
Nothing can be objected against their capacity, which may not forcibly be objected against the 
cupacity ot almost all original historians ; nor can any charge be laid against them of mistake or mis- . 
conception, which will not impugn the credibility of the most accredited documents in existence. 

4. Their integrity, though rigidly tried, was found to be unimpeaLhalde. No proof is on record 
of their having wanted veracity, or fair moral character. The chief or only ciiuies ever alleged 

I. I 


ppaiiist tliem were their opinions, — those opinions which they openly and boldly promulged as doc- 
trines ut salviition, in their pnhlished writinjis. 

IV. The writers of the books display extiaordinary candour. 

Matthew narrates his original inglorious condition of a publican ; Peter, through Mark, describes 
in the darkest colouring the events of his temporary apostacy ; Paul speaks of his having been 'a 
blasphcmtr and a persecutor,' and of strivings of unholy desire in his recent character; and all the 
writers expatiate on circumstances of their religion which exposed their persons to the certain 
derision and conteinpt of the world. A fabricator would have concealed what was ignominious, 
and invented whatever fiction might have dazzled or aggrandized. 

V. The historical statements of the books possess, in keeping with their avowed objects, all the 
characteristics of true narrative. 

1. They are complete. If they profess to narrate an event, they exhibit it in its cause, in its 
effects, in its design, and in all its details; or if they profess to discover the historical basis of a doc- 
trine, they exhibit the whole fact on whieh the doctrine is founded, ami fully explain in what re- 
spects the two are connected. No statement is cut short, so as to leave the reader in suspense, or 
to make an appeal to his imagination. Every narrative is so complete that the events described 
must have l)een belore the writer's mind far more fully and distinctly, than if they had been either 
fiction, or mixtures of fact and fabrication. 

2. The statenunts are minute. Spurious or exaggerated narratives are always general and in- 
definite ; but the narratives of the New Testament are in the highest degree circumstantial, notic- 
ing the most minute particulars, and detailing the smallest matters with the same air of precision 
as the greatest. 

3. The statements are consistent. Though they include the most various elements, grouping 
together all sorts of characters, and amassing the most heterogeneous materials, the picture which 
they exhibit is in beautiful, accurate, perfect keeping. Other w ritings which are received as credi- 
ble, often contain most glaring discrepancies, and even palpable contiadictions ; but the writings of 
the New Testament are consistent to a degree which frees them, not alone from the charge of fabri- 
catior), but Irom the suspicion of mistake. 

4. They are simple and unimpassioned. Either invention or exaggeration is the work of the 
fancy, and cannot go on without emotion; and it also invariably leads to rhetorical flourish, or at 
least to a violation of simplicity, liut the books of the New Testament, though detailing the 
most wonderful occurrences, are as unadorned and dispassionate as the humblest and most unpre- 
tending narrative. 

VI. Though the writers, especially the four evangelists, wrote independently of one another, in 
countries mutually remote, and nearly at the same period, they minutely agree as to all the essen- 
tial circumstances of what they recorci, while they fall into such apparent discrepancies as arise from 
. computing time in different methods, from using words in different acceptations, or from narrating 
the same events in subordination to different designs. 

Matthew and Mark say, 'that after six days' Jesus went to the mount of transfiguration ; but 
Luke says, 'that after eight days,' he went. Now, the former evangelists excluded, while the latter 
included, the day from which they dated, and the day on >\hich the transfiguration occurred. Luke 
savs, that tlie men who journeyed with Saul to Damascus '/iearrf the voice ' of him who spake from 
heaven ; but Paul himself says, that they 'heard no^he voic«.' Now Luke by ' the voice' means 
the sound or prefatory thunder which stupified the men, while Paul means by it the articulate utter- 
ance which was addressed solely to himself. Matthew and Mark speak of ' an angel' as having at- 
tended the resurrection of Christ ; but John speaks of * two.' Now John simply narrated the event 
of tiie resurrection as it occurred, while Mark and Matthew liiverge into a description of angelic 
manifestation, telling how 'an angel shone,' yet omitting to stute that 'two angels' were present. 
Only such apparent discrepancies as these occur in the books of the New Testament, — discrepancies 
which disappear before an examination of the respective designs of the writers, and which strongly 
prove the absence of all collusion, and at the same time serve as a powerful reflector to the minute 
agreement which |)ervades the narratives. 

VIL Among the books in general, and especially between the book of Acts and the epistles of 
Paul, theie exist numerous yet remote coincidences. 

These coincidences are extremely striking. They are perfectly exact ; yet often are so remote 
as to be discoverable only by a process of two or three consecutive inductions. They could not 
have been designed, for they lie too deep beneath the surface, to be available to any except men of 
painful reseaich ; yet they are greatly more numerous and i)erfect, than if they had been the result 
of patient and dexterous study. Those between the book of Acts, and the epistles of Paul, form 
the subject of Paley's ' HoriE Pauliiiae.' 

Vlll. The statements of the books coincide with known or independently authenticated circum- 
stances to which they refer. 

1. They coincide "with admitted facts, authenticated by profane historians. Instances of thia 
occur in Matt. ii. "2rl ; Luke ii. 1 ; and iii. 1 ; Acts xii. I ; xi. 2d ; xii. 1 9 — 23 ; xiii. 6 ; and xxiv. 24. 

2. They coincide with political, secular, or heathen practices, which are known to have been 
eontemporaneou*. Instances of this occur in John xix. 19, 2U; Acts iv. 1 ; and xvii. 22. 

3. Thev coincide with existing customs, attested by Jewish writers who were hostile to Chris- 
tianity. "instances of this occur in Mark viii. '6, 4. ; Acts xvi. 13; and x\i. 23, 24. 

IX." Some leading statements of the books, including those which lorm the basis of the most im- 
portant doctrines, are repeated by cotemporary Jewish and heaiben wr.ters. 

The events respecting John the iiaptist, and the ciicinustances of the death and resurrection of 
Christ, are mentioned by Joseplms. The persecution of the first Cliristians, and esoecially the 


apostles' being ' made a spectacle to the world,' and treated as ' Cools,' are mentioned by Tacitus 
The opinions of the Jewish sects, and the customs and morals of the Jewish nation, are (letailcd 
by Josephus, and scNeral Roman writers. The inaniiers, moriil practices, and supi^rstitioiis observ- 
ances of the lieathens, are descrbed by many authors. The notices ot Jewisli and Roman piinces 
and governors, concur with the general testimony of contemporaneous history. Some of these in- 
stances, such as those respecting the moral condition of the Jeus and the heatliens, include a f;reiit 
diversity o( particulars, almost all of which, as well as the geneial facts, are contirmed by indepen- 
dent testimony. 

X. Tlie books narrate events and promulgate opinions which formed the natural origin of numer- 
ous remarkable usages of the primitive Christians, which are mentioned as novelties by profane au- 
thors of the iirst century. 

The authors who describe the usages, uniformly date them at a period subsequent to that at 
which the books were written. They also ascribe the usages to the new religion of Christian- 
ity. Now, whatever was remarkable, peculiar, or novel in what the authors describe, is exactW 
accounted for by the statements of the New Testament. Either these statements propagated 
the usages throughout the empire, or they were a transcript of actual circumstances in which the 
usages originated. 

XI. Many peisons who witnessed the facts recorded in the books, or who received informatioti 
respecting them fiom personal witnesses, ami enjoyed the most abundant opportunities of testing 
their credibility, voluntarily underwent sufferings and death, to attest that the facts were true. 

These persons were what are called confessors and martyrs. But they did not suffer for their 
opiniotis : they suffered for their belief ot facts. They were all either personal or secondary, and 
most competent witnesses to the lacts on w hich Christianity was based ; and they were tortured 
and destroyed, that either they might be compelled to deny what they had attested, or might no 
longer w ork havoc upon the reigning superstition by the effects of their testimony. Both the fact 
and the nature of their sufferings are mentioned in the first century l)y Clement and Hernias, and 
by the heathen writers Tacitus and Martial, and early in the second century by Polycarp and the 
heathen writer Suetoiuus. 

XII. The books of the New Testament are sometimes associated by early writers with those 
of the Old, as though the two sets of documents were equally received, or stood upon an equal 
footing of authority- 
Clement of the first century speaks of 'the Law, the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Gospel.' 

Hegesippus, Ignatius, and Irenaeus of the second centurv, speak lespectively of 'the Law, the Pro- 
phets, and the Lord,' 'the Prophets, but especially the Gospels,' and 'the apostolic writings, the 
Jiaw and the Prophets.' Origen of the third century is moie tormal, and speaks, as a modern w ould 
do, of 'the Old and New Testament,' and 'the Ancient and New Scriptures.' Now the books of the 
Old Testament were universally received by the Jews as not only credible but inspired; and those 
of the hooks which are historical, were received even by the heathens as narratives at least equally 
credible with those of any ancient historians. The associating of these books and those or the 
New Testament by early Christian writers, would therefore seem to prove that the latter were 
generally esteemed credible, — that they were esteemed so by a people who denied their inspiration, 
and rejected their doctrines, and at the same time possessed ample opportunity to investigate, and, 
had it been practicable, to impugn their iacts. Or if the associating of the books of the Old and 
those of the New Testament, does not prove that the latter were actually esteemed credible by 
the whole hostile or neutral community, it at least proves that they were so esteemed by all classes 
of persons to whom the early Christian authors addressed their writings. 

XIII. The books were ap|iealed to in all the controversies respecting Christianity, which occurred 
during the first and second centuries, aiul were treated on all sides as conclusive authority respect- 
ing lacts. 

Though some persons professing to be Christian deided that particular books were inspired, they 
nevertheless admitted that they were credible; and though heathen and Jewish opponents rejected 
them on account of their doctrines, they paid them remarkable deference as liistorical documents. 
All modern infidels freely, and even quote lor their own purposes, whatever historical state- 
ments of the Bible can be detached from tlie peculiar doctrines of revelation ; and they in conse- 
quence constructively assent to the credibility of at least those books from which they quote. But 
this conduct is a mere inconsistency. That of the early controvertists, on the other hand, was a 
regular, formal, professed appeal to the books of the New Testament, as documents of historical 

XIV. Those statements of the books which form the basis both of their doctrines and of all their 
minor or subordinate facts, were admitted to be true, and even adopted and repeated, by the pub- 
lic opponents ot Christianity. 

The death and exalted character of Christ were so generally admitted at Rome, that the em- 
peror Tiberius, in whose reign he was crucified, proposed his being enrolled among the Roman 
gods. The spread of the go pel over Judea and throughout the regions mentioned m Paul's epistles 
and the book of Acts, was recognised in the public etiict-s of the empire, and made the a\ov\ed 
basis of the imperial persecutions to which the Christians were subjected. E\eu the change in 
condition, in moral habits, in social sentiments and in religious usages, which the books describe an 
having been produced respectively in Jews and Heathens who believed the gospel, is admitted as 
to almost all its details, and is in some instances even minutely described, by such persons as 
Tacitus, Celsus, and Porphyry. 

XV. The doctrines of the books and the credit of their narratives, were rapidly diffused and pub- 
-itly [Hofessed, amongst the population who had the highest tacilities tor ascertaining the triiili or 
lalsehood of the lacts on which they were based. 


Christianity rose to gigantic strength almost the instant after it began to exist. As is ^wr^ared 
by Jewish and heathen historians, it spread throughout most parts of tiie Romnn empire, during 
the generation which lived at the commencenient of the apostolic ministry. What is chiefly re- 
markable is, that it spread first and most rapidly in Judea. • Yet the books of the New Testament 
state the miracles and discourses ot Christ to have been so numerous, and to have been pertornied 
and spoken belbre such multitudes and in so many parts of the country, that theie could have lived 
jio persons in Judea, at the period when it extensively receive<l Christianity, who either had not 
seen the miracles and heard the discourses, or at least did not enjoy opportunity to make iiiquiiies 
respecting them of personal witnesses, both friendly and hostile. The people of the first century, 
especially they of the generation coteinporaneous with the death of Christ, and more particularly 
such as resided in Judea, or resorted Iroin other countries to the gri at festivals at Jerusalem, po-*- 
sessed a thousand facilities for investigating the facts of the New Testament; yet they were the 
very people among whom the credit of the facts, and a belief in all the doctrines consequent upon 
lliern, were most rapidiv and signally disseminated. 

XVI. The writers of the books frequently appeal, for confirmation of their statements, to those 
who were in circumstances to knoiv or to ascertain their truth ; and they often found their admo- 
nitions and reasonings U|ion what were admitted as incontrovertible tacts. 

The liistorical statements throughout the epistles are almost all the mere echo of general previ- 
ous belief. They are assumed as undisputed by the parties to whom the epistles are addressed, and, 
in the character of undoubted transcripts of acknowledged facts, are directly employed as grounds for 
admonition, or as th.' premises of an argument tor supporting a conclusion. Tiiey are, at the same 
time, proved on abundant testimony to have been first published among the parties to whom they 
severally appeal. It hence {ollov\s that their credibility was established the instant they were vviitten. 
Even the historical books, though themselves making no other appeal than the silent liut powerful 
one of their having been first published among the people whom they describe as having been wit- 
nesses of most of the facts uhicii ihey record, contain many discourses, such as that of Peter on the 
day of Pentecost, that of Paul at Athens, and those of our Lord against the Scribes and Pharisees, 
which base all their doctrines and ailmonitions on series of important facts, and appeal for the truth 
of their premises to the public undisguised acknowledgment of the parties addressed. 

XVII. All the Christian writers ot the first and second centuries assume, thioughout their rea- 
sonings, the credibility of the hooks ot the New Testament; or, in other words, they uniformly 
treat the historical statements ot these books as uncontroverted, or as universally admitted to be 

This is a fact of singular strength ; and unless we shall esteem all the early Christian writers to 
have been egregious tools, and believe that they maintained their influence and propagated their 
opinioi.s by means of the nost contemptible foolery of argument, it proves to demonstration that 
the credibility jf the books of the New Testament was questioned, in the early ages, by neither 
heretics, Jews, heathens, nor philosophers. The early Christian authors wrote with the express 
design ot propagating Christianitv. Many addressed their writings in the first instance and even 
exclusively to the enemies of the gospel. Some grappled in the tug and wrestle of controversy with 
those who v\ould now be called the infidel opponents of their faith. Most reviewed the current 
arguments, ol)jections, or erroneous principles ot heretics, Jews, heathens, and philosophers, labour- 
ing to ( onvince these classes of persons ot their errors, and to convert them to the truth. All the 
early Christian writers, in fact, exerted their efforts more or less directly with the avowed design, 
and almost tor the sole purpose, of <iefendiiig Christianity against the objections of its enemies. 
Wherefore, then, did they never ilelend the credibility of the books of the New Testament? Why, 
in particular, did they dare or veniure, in all ( ircumstances, to assume that credibility as uncon- 
troverted ? The only possible reason must be that tnere was not in existence, or at least never was 
publicly avowed, one noticeaide objection on the subject. 

Modern objections to the credioility of the books of the New Testament, additional to such as 
some ot the preceding proofs directly answer, may be comprehended in two. 

I. The books of the New Testament were never received by unconverted Jews as they are by 
Christians, and in particular, they were rejected by such Jews as did not embrace Christianity, and 
yet had opportunities of testing the historical statements which the books eoutain. 

'J'his oi'jection confounds credibility with inspiration. The Jews certainly never received the 
books ot ifie New Testament asa revelation or as divine scriptures; yet they ha\e ah\ays admitted 
them to be authentic and credible historical documents. The eaily Jews, who are the only parties 
in the case ot any weight, never denied the facts which the books record. They denied, indeed, 
the doctrines which were built upon them; but they often quoted the facts lor the piiipose of per- 
veriedly supporting their own opinions. They admitted, for example, that Chi ist wasciueihed, 
but tienied, on the perverted authority of his own discourses, that he was the Son ot God; or 
they acknowledged that he had worked the numerous miracles ascribed to him, but contended, 
from his alleged blasphemy, in having called himself the Son of God, that he had worked them 
through diabolic agency. 

II. if the books were credible, it is unaccountable that cotemporary historians should have so 
slightly noticed the remarkable events which they narrate. 

This objection can be met by many answers, but may be overthrown by one or two of the more 

1. That contemporary historians noticed at all the events narrated, is sufficient evidence of credi- 
bility. How could they have noticed them it they had not oecuired? Or is a notice of no value 
unless when it is ol a length and copiousness to suit the demands of our tancy or our caprice ? 

2. Most of the writings of the first century are lost; and those which remain are, for the most 


pHi t. mutilated. Had all the writings been preserved, they might have been found to contain 
many corroborations of the New Testament narratives. Siu-h as might have contained corrobo- 
rations, are exactly the writings which were most likely to have been lost. For, 

3. The writingsvvhich survive owe their preservation to the circumstance, that the topics of 
which they treat were those most interesting to the imperial Romans, or to heathen philosophers. 
Now. the discussion of these topics admitted no direct reten nee to Christianity, and much less a 
detailed account of the facts of its origin. Whoever adverts to the character of the writings, to 
the design of their authors, and to the circumstances of their publication, will only wonder that 
thev adverted even slightly to the subjects of the New Testament history. — Ed.] 

[Note P. The Harmony of the Scriptures, a Proof of their Inspiration — Dr. Ridgeley's argu- 
ment from the Harrnon> of Scripture, so far as it is valid, is simply the argument from prophecy, 

that scripture contains predictions of events, which are related in credible history, and are ui.iver- 

saliy admitted to have happened as they were foretold. Most of his argument, as illustrated by 
hicn, simply exhibits agreements between the prophecies of the Old Testament and the narratives 
of the New. It ought, however, to have included a view of some of that class of minute, latent, 
and striking coincidences in description and historical allusion, which Dr. Paley, in his Horae Pau- 
linae. (discovers between the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul : it ought, in particular, to have 
exhibited the remarkable agreement which exists among respectively all the doctrines and all the 
ethical principles of scripture. A general statement of the argument, as applying to the several 
books of the Ne.v Testament, may be made thus: — The writers wrote in different countries, in 
different circumstances, with different specific designs, without means of collusion, without oppor- 
tunity lor mutual revision; they address d themselves to readers of the most various characters ; 
tliey framed their statements to suit the most discrepant exigencies, and confront the most; con- 
flicting prejudices or errors ; they touched fact and doctrine incidentally, directly, argumentatively, 
or in \xh:itever manner was a<iapt<d to their respective designs ; they dealt with tacts which astute- 
ness and cunning had done their utmost to mystify, and with doctrines which were new, profound, 
numerous, and associated together by many abstract relations ; and yet they are all consistent with 
one another, minutely h-Hrmonious, unilormly and perfectly agreed. — Ed.] 

[Note Q. Paul's justification hj Faith only, and James' Justification by Works. — The justifica. 
tioii of which James speaks, is a justification very olten mentioned in scripture, and perfectly 
familiar to all persons who speak tlie English language : it is the evincing of a person to be what; 
he protesses to be, or the vindi< ating of him from a charge of deception or of sin. Wisdom, and Christ, 
and God, as well as Christians, are represented as subjects of this justification. * Wisdom is justified 
of her children,'— Matt. xi. 19; Luke vii. 35. 'God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the 
Spirit,' — 1 Tim. iii. 16. 'Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written. That thou 
miglitest be justified in thy sayings,' — Ixom. iii. 4. James, to illustrate his doctrine, adduces two 
exampl. s, — that of a professedly benevolent man, who is vindicated by feeding the hungry and cloth- 
ing the naked; and that of Abraham, v\ho piotessed to be an obedient observer of the divine will, 
and was vindicated hy offering his son Isaac on the altar. What he understands by the justifica- 
tion of a Chrisiian, therefore, is simply the vindication of his Christian profession or character. Now, 
Paul everywhere teaches as distinctly as he, that this is effected, not by faith only, but chiefly by 
works. James, in the sauie way, teaches as truly as Paul that justification from guilt, or accept- 
ance with God, has connexion, not with works but only with faith. The leading text which Paul 
quotes in support of it, is quoted for the same purpose by James : ' And the scripture was fulfilled 
which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness," — James ii. 'I'd, 
couip. with Rom. iv. 2,3. How does James say this scripture was fulfilled ? and what does he im- 
ply to be its meaning? It was fulfilled ' when Abraham had offered Isaac his son upon the altar,' 
. — ver. '23. It uas fulfilled by an event which did not happen till eighteen years after it was 
spoken, or after Abraham's faith had been imputed to him for righteousness ; and it necessarily 
had reference to justification uith God — ^justirication by faith, — a justification altogether different 
in character from vindicaiion by works. It James can be supposed to treat of justification Irom 
guilt v\ hfeii he speaks of Aliraham offeriiig up Isaac, then, by adducing the saying that his faith was 
imputed to him for righteousness, he represents the patriarch as having been jusiified eighteen 
years before he was justified. He treats, however, of a totally different matter, and, as we have 
seen, v\ rites in perfect harmony with Paul. 

Dr. Ridgeley's explanation as to James speaking of a justification oi faith, is hence not quite cor- 
rect. Faith, in strict propriety of words, cannot even be vindicated from a charge, and still less 
justified from guilt. A person, an active and intelligent being, is the subject either of justification or 
of vindication. Dr. R.'s incidental sentiment about 'an historical faith, such as the devils them- 
selves have,' is still more objectionable ; and may furnish occasion for a stricture or two, when he 

comes to discuss the nature and properties of believing Ed.] 

[NoTK R. Vindictive Justice. — Dr. Ridgeley's sentiments on this paragraph, clearly imply that 
there is one rule of rectitude for ' persons in a private capacity,' and another tor 'magistrates in the 
execution of public justice.' No practical principle can be more mischievous or unsound. If any 
aciioii be sinful to a Christian as a private member of society, will it cease to be so, and become 
just and obligatory, when he is elected to fill a civil office? Is there, 'in the execution of public 
jusice,' or in the rights and prerogiitives of magistrates, an authority to annul or reverse a law of 
God, — to dispense with the obligations of private conscience, — to perforin as necessary lo the pub- 
lic welfare, actions which are in. oiisistent with private personal religion? If so, either moral recti- 
tude IS a nose of wax which may be twisted to the right or left agreeably to a nian's position m 
society, or no Christian, without renouncing allegiance to Christ and violating Ins laws, can a^t in 
a magisterial capacity ! Mere political economiais, who make no pretensions to a supe lor ivisuoui 


■Jhan (hat of leiisoii, Icadi a better doctrine than this, and have no difficulty in saying to the magis- 
trate, as truly as to the private meniber ot society, ' lie ineiciful as >our Father also is mercihil ;' 
'judge not, that ye be not judged.' They maintain that ' public justice' ought to be conducted, 
not for retaliating injuries, but tor preventing crime and leclaimitig ofTenders ; tiiey can see a model 
for magistiates as truly in the moral government of Deity, as for private Christians iti the perfec- 
tions of the divine character; and, while imulcating magisterial vigilance and fidelity on the one 
hand, ami official mercy and forbearance on the oiht-r, they have no difficulty in recognising a per- 
fect oneness in a public and in a private standard of rectitude. 

Dr. Ridgeley (brgets that the precept respecting ' an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,' was 
part of the judicial law, or of that peculiar polity which belonged to the theocratic government of the 
Jews. An advertence to this fact affords a key to the tiue reconciliation of the two classes of texts 
to which he refers. The judicial law, as truly as the ceremonial, was peculiar to the Mosaic (iis[)en- 
sation, and became defunct at the advent of Christ. Our Lord, at the commencement of his pub- 
lic ministry, quoted tlie very precept of it in question, for the purpose of teaching that it was abol- 
ished : 'Ye have heard that it hath been said. An eye for an eye, and a tooth (or a tooth ; but 1 sny 
unto you. That ye resist not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him 
the other also ; and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy 
cloak also,' — Matt. v. 38 — 40. 'J'he judicial law existed in union with the ceremonial; the one 
exhibited the severity of justice, and the other the method of mercy; the former inculcated the 
severity and inevitableness of the deserts of transgression, and the latter the necessity and available- 
iiess of propitiation by sacrifice. IJoth received their due fulrilment in the ol)edience and sutferings 
of our great Surety; and they were a rule respectively of moral conduct and of acceptable aj)- 
jiroach to God, onl> as typifying the properties of his atonement. Tlie principle of 'an eye lor an eve, 
and a tooth lor a tooth,' — the principle of vindictive justice, or of retaliating and avenging injuries 
— has, hence, no place in the rule of rectitude between man and man. * Vengeance is mine, saith the 
Lord; I \\\\\ repay.' Man, be he serf or magistrate, peasant or prince, may not, without sin, avenge 
himself: he may not ' return evil for evil ;' he may not demand 'an e\e for an e\e, or a tooth for 
a tooth.' Public justice, as well as private, is restricted to restoring property, and to [)iotectiiig 
and respecting it. Punishment must; not be vindictive, but corrective — it must not avenge or re- 
taliate a wrong, but merely chastise with a view to personal amendment and the public safety. 
What, then, is to be said respecting ' life for life,' — the punishment of death for the crime of mur- 
der? It is, in my humble judgment, fearfully wrong; and I shall tind occasion to state my reasons, 

when \N e shall advance to Dr R.'s exposition of the s xtli commandment Ed.] 

[Note S. Proof af the Inspiration of Scripture from the Ztul which it disjilaysfor the Divine glory. 
— Dr. Ridgeley does not see the argument from the zeal of scripture for the divine glory in its lull 
light, and fails to advert to its most striking phasis. The argument may be given in few sentences, 
and, lor the sake of greater brevity, shall be stated with reference only to the New Testament. 

Man, in the present state of being, is never, in the or(;inary course of things, and especially when 
opportunity is afforded him ot recounting actions which excite the wonder or attract the applause 
of liis fellows, so effectually humbled as not to be influenced by feelings of self-gloriation. 'I'he 
inspired writers were, in this respect, men of the same passions as others, and, according to infor- 
mation furnished by themselves, felt strongly the promptings of vanity to boast of even those 
spiritual honours which belonged to them as ambassadors of Christ. Paul required to have a thorn 
in the flesh, a messenger ot Satan sent to buffet him, lest he might be exalted overmuch through 
the abundance of the revelations he received. Peter exposed himself to public severe censure 
from a fellow -labourer, on account of weakly seek iig tlie iavour of a numerous class of men by 
triinming to their prejudices. The whole body of the apostles, in fact, engaged at one time in un- 
seemly strife for pie-eminence, contending among themselves as to who should be greatest in the 
kingdom of their Master. Such are the accounts, furnished by their own pen, of their having 
shared in the vanity and self-gloiiation connnon to mankind. 

Now, liable as flie penmen of the New Testament were to exalt themselves and desire personal 
fame — possessed constitutionally of just the same vain ambition as Juiius Caesar, or any other 
historian of his ow n exploits — they, nevertheless, display not one tiiif;e ot either sell-adulation or 
homage to one another from beginning to end of their writings. In all histories but those of the 
Bible, praiseworiliiness and woniier are wreathed around the blow of man. Xeiiophon, Liv_\, 
Jose()lius, Clarendon, and all other oidinary talk only of the virtues, prowess, or achieve- 
ments of human heroes. Julius Cffisar, Maico Paolo, or any other ordinary narrator ot his owu ex- 
ploits or travels, lets no leading agent, no object of applause, no wonder-worker or discoverer 
figure in his pages except himself. Had the penmen of the New Testament written under merely 
human influences, they themselves and tlieir coai jutors would have stood forth in every narrative 
as the chief or only claimants of admiration and homage. All their writings, however, proclaim 
abasement to man, and undivided glory to God. Whatever beneticence they record, is tiaced to 
Deity as its source; whatever wonders of love or of power they narrate, are ascribed to him as 
their cause; whatever claims to praiseworthiness or honour or homage; they advance, are made in 
his name and connected solely with his glory. Men, inelu<iing the sacred writers themselves, are 
spoken of only that they may stand rebuked and humbled, or that they may appear as mere instru- 
ments under the one, supreme, sovereign agency of G(jd. One apostle figuies as the subject of 
guilty cowardice, base apostacv, and deeplv humiliating repentam-e ; another in the mid-career of 
voiider-working efforts and ot Sjdendid successes, liescrities himself as 'le>stlian the least of all 
saints ;' and all make mention of their excellencies as unmerited gifts of divine bounty, and of their 
miracles and other achievements as the direct results of divine agency. Their writings, liom be- 
ginning to end, unfeignedly and fervently echo the s(!ntiment of Daviu : ' Not unto us, O Lord, not 


unto us, but unto thy name, give glory.' What a contract do they, in this respect, exhibit to all 
other productions of authorship ! In scripture, God is nil in all: in other writings, man — poor, 
drivelling, sinful man — is always a ptoininent, atui generally the sole, clHlinant of praise and admi- 
ration. What but inspiration could have so perfectly controlled the ordinary feelings of the s:icred 
penmen, and imbued them witii so transcendently a devotional spirit? — Ed.] 

[Note T. Consciousness of Inspiration — Dr. Ridgeley's speculations as to the manner in which 
tin* sacred writers knew themselves to be inspired, are conjectural and unnecessary. No man now 
knows from experience v\ hat the phenomena of inspiration are ; nor can any one gather distinct infor- 
npitioM respecting them from tlie divine word. The_/bc<. that the sacred writers knew themselves to 
be inspired, and not tiie manner in which they knew this, is what we ought to investigate and dis- 
cern ; and it will be clearly understood, and coiivincinj;ly exhibited, just in the proportion in which 
it IS viewed as a matter simply of testimony or at best of analogy. We can acquire no knowledge 
or assurance of it by attempting to ascerta ii how it was ; we shall form but conj 'Ctural ideas of it, by 
coinparint.' it, as Dr. llidgeley does, with the tact of a consciousness of spiritual illumination on the 
part of Ijelievers in Christ ; we can truly understand it, or perceive the evidence on which it rests, 
oiiiy when we regard it as an essential part of the process of inspiration, and compare it with con- 
sciousness of all sorts of knowledge. Every proof that a hook is a revelation from God, is neces- 
sarih a proof that the writers of it knew themselves to be inspired. Whatever proves that a writ- 
ing \\as penned by inspiration, proves at the same time that it was not penned under the influence 
of fanaticism and delusion. Tlie fact that the sacred penmen had a consciousness of being inspired, 
stands thus oil just the same tiasis — as broad, as tangible, as convincing — as the general truth that 
ihe scriptures are a revelation from (iod. 

There is, in the consciousness of inspiration, nothing contrary to the ordinary laws of human 
experience, nothing unanalogous to consciousness of other sorts of knowledge, but everything ac- 
corchint and harmonious with l)oth. Let it even be supposed that in all instances, instead of merely 
a lew, the sacred writers did not, at the time when they wrote, understand the matters which were 
suggested to them, they had no more difficulty in perceiving that certain communications had been 
made to their mind, and no less calm and distinct a conviction that these did not otiginate in delu- 
sion, than the general human mind has in receiving from a par.nt or tutor tlie lessons ot ehildliood. 
IMan's mind is so constituted as to receive and retain for years what is utterly devoid of mean- 
ing to ii, and what liy mere ri tiection it afterwards comes to understand ; and it receives and re- 
tains such matter, not only without injury to its powers, w'ithout contravention of its spontaneous 
operations, and without detriment to consciousness or hazard of illusion, but in the ordinary course 
of the training and development ot its energies, and in the full exercise of its most wakeful and 
calm perceptions. Every educated man received lessons in his childhood which long lay like new- 
ly masticated food upon his mind, and did not yield intellectual nourishment, or become incorporat- 
ed with what he knew or understood, till after tedious processes of digestion and secretion ; yet 
he, all the while, [lossessed distinct consciousness that the lessons had been communicated by a 
tutor, that they lay lodged in his mind as acquired materials of thought, anil that they were neither 
illusions ot his own fancy, nor suggestions from some strange or unremembered source. Now it man, 
through the defective medium ot spoken language, can so communicate ideas to the mind, that, 
though not understood, they will be retained, and afterwards turned to practical account, God, 
who is iiitinitely stronger and more skilful than he, can assuredly do it through the surer medium 
of moral operation ; if man can, in the oriiinary course of his educational culture, receive, by the 
means of sound or of disturbance of the atmosphere, the elements of future thought, he could much 
moie, without suspension or modification of his ordinary reason, receive, by the higher means ot a 
moral impression on his intellect, the elements of full acquaintance with the will of his Creator; 
and if he, (iail\, in all circumstances, and in millions of instances, acquires, without confusion or 
damage to his consciousness, his rote-work lessons from the articulations ot a tutor's voiee, he could 
much more, with clear, calm perception of the divine source whence the communications caine^ re- 
ceive inspirid suggestions from the supreme agency and unerring wisdom of the Holy Spirit. 

Again, consciousness of inspiration is perfectly accordant with the nature ot all knowledge. 
Every man knows what is presented to his mind, and believes what appears to him to be true; 
and he knows it just in the light in which it is presented to him, and believes it with more or less 
firmness according to the strength or nature of the evidence by which it is supported. He knows, 
for example, that extreme beat gives pain to the body, and believes it on the evidence of sensation; 
he knows that one reminiscence draws forth another by the attraction of resemblance, and believes 
it on the evidence of consciousness; he knows that a whole is greater than a part, and believes it 
on the evidence of intuition; he knows that a ripe orange is \ellow, and round, and juicy, and 
believes it on the evidence of perception; he knows that the inhabitants of New Zealand are 
cannibals, and believes it on the evidence of written or of oral testimony. But why does he know 
any of these matters? Just because they are presented to his mind. In what light does he know 
thtm? Just in that which belongs respectively to the several media through which they are con- 
veyed. And why does he believe them? Just because all matters presented to the intellect carry 
with them their a()propriate evidence, and necessarily make an impression proportioned to its w eight. 
Now, why should he not know a matter presented to bis mind by the oiviiie agency? Why should 
he not know it in the bght of supernatural suggestion ? Why sliould he not believe it on the evi- 
dence of divine testimony? Knowledge byduine suggestion is knowledge on exactly the same 
prim iple, and according to exactly the same laws, as know ledge by any other medium : it is simply 
the presenting of objects to the mind, — the presenting of them in a manner and with an evidence 
suited to their peculiar nature; and it, in no respect, differs more fVoiii knowledge ot any other 
genus, than knowledge by intuition differs from that by perception, or knowledge by conscious- 
ness diflers from that by hnnian testimon>. Hence, a lu.ui under divine iiis|iirution, and kiioaing 
that he is so, is, on philosophical principles, no greater a plienoaienon, than a man reading history 


or studying mathematics; and he may, on the evidence of divine sufrpestion. as surely commit the 
revelation lie has received to ^\'|•itinf,^ as, on the evi<ience ot deinonstiation and ot liuman testimony, 
the matheniHtician and the l)istoiian may deliver prelections on the pioperties ot angles and the 
revolutions ot empires. — Ed. J 

[Note U. Modes and Degrees of Inspiration In this paragraph, and in a subsequent one. Dr. 

Ridfjeley hints at the popular doctrine respecting dtyrees ojf inspiration. In some parts of this sec- 
tion, he niiikes remote allusion also to the modes in uhich the sacred writers were inspired. On 
both topics, however, he is confused and ol)scure. On the former, in particular, he confounds the 
semi-intidel theory of Socinians with the theory of the opponents of mere plenary verbal inspira- 
tion. That some light may be thrown on his allusions, 1 shall make a remark or two on the subject 
of modes and degrees. 

Many writers distribute inspiration into classes corresponding to the external phenomena with 
which It was given. When it came through the medium of sounds, thev call it audible revelation; 
when it came through the medium of visions, they call it simbolic revelation; and when it came as 
a direct iiiHueiice upon the mind, they call it silent suggestion. They, in consequence, discover as 
many kinds of revelation as there were varieties of phenomena, — revelation by audible communica- 
tion, revelation by symbolic representations, revelation by (ireams, revelation by Urim and Thum- 
mim, and revelation by immediate afflatus on the understanding. These varieties they are pleased 
to designate varieties in the modes of inspiration. Every person, however, may, on a moment's reflec- 
tion, perceive that the) are varieties merely in the external or ph\sical phenomena. The mode of in- 
spiration, or the manner in which the Divine Spirit operated supernaturally on the minds of the sacred 
writers, seems to have been, in all cases, the same. Neither sound, nor symbolic representation, nor 
anything else, addressed to the senses, constituted inspiration. The supernatural influence ot the 
Divine Spirit on the mind, w hetlu r direct or mediate, whether with or without external phenomena, 
was that alone which either ina( e revelations, or proiluced a consciousness that they were from God. 
jf/oif this influence operated, \ve neither kno>\ , nor ought to inquire. If it is true respecting the regene- 
rating, how emphatically true is it respecting the inspiring influences ot the Holy Ghost: ' The wind 
bloweih where it listeth, ami thou hearest the sound ttiereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and 
whither it goeth ; so is e\ery one that is born,' every one that is inspired, "of the Spirit,' — John lii. 
8. But though we know not what the modus is, we may easily see that it is unique and uniform. 
Diiferiiice of medium, or difference of external phenomena, caiiiiut atfect a manner ot operation 
which is divine, and which, as su( h, is aluavs, when directed to any given end, one and immutable. 
To talk ot modes of creation, modes of divine volition, modes ot Gon's faithfulness, would seem to 
me nearly, if not quite as correct, as to talk ot modes ot inspiration. Phenomena, and circumstances, 
and objects, differ from one another as widely in various cases of God's creating, and of his willing, 
and ot his fulhlling promises, as in the instances of his inspiring the sucred writers. But are we 
entitled, in consequence, to speak of modes and kinds of his power, his will, and his faithtulness ? 
I'he miraculous powtr of Christ, in particular, was marked t)y varieties in its display which pecu- 
liarly resemble the sujiposed varieties of inspiration, lie exerted it, at one time, while ' he spake 
with a loud voice;' at another, while he maife u>e of clay and spittle; at another, while a woman 
touched the hem of his garment ; at another, while he travelled at a distance of several miles from 
the object on which it was displayed. But who will say that it was ot different modes of operation, 
— that, as display ed silently , as displayed by the accompaniment of touch, and as display ed b> the ac- 
companiment Oi sound, it was ot diffeient kinds? Mo one will say so; nor, therefore, will any one 
who admits the cases to be parallel, talk of modes and kinds of inspiration. 

The (ioi trine ot degrees is nearly allied to that ot modes, and seems always to accompany it. 
The uriters who maintain it, hovve\er, appear to be as enveloped in mist, and as shrouded Irom 
Idle anoihi r's view, as the ancient theorists in metaphysics: they agree only that there are degrees, 
but proiuulge all sorts of contradictions as to the points in which these consist, or the limits by 
which thev are detined. To a superficial student, indeed, they may seem to be so lar agreed as all 
to distribute the degrees into what they term " suggestion," "elevation," and "superintendence;" 
but they greatly conflict with one ai, other eyen in this; for they use the same word in totally 
tiitfereiit senses, and, under cover of the same phraseology, promulge the most discrepant sentiments 
as to the amount or energy of inspiring influence. Their variations from one another appear to 
me to arise from the erroneous and illusive character of their fundamental principle. Degrees of 
inspiration, or differences ot quantity in the inspiring agency of the Divine Spirit, seems to my very 
humble judgment, a notion utterly discountenanced In scripture, and quite repugnant to enlighteiieti 
and saiR titled rea^on. The scripture's own accounts of its inspiration all contemplate the writings 
as a whole, and, speaking of them iu cumulo, exhibit them, in their origin and nature, as in one 
uniform sense the word of God. 'The propliecy came not in old time by the will ot man; but 
holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,' — 2 Pet i. "21. 'And he said unto 
them. All things must be fulfilled which were written in the layv ot Moses, and in the prophets, 
and in the psalms concerning me. Tnen opened he their understandings, that they might under- 
stand the scriptures,' — Luke xxiv. 44, 45. * All scripture is given by inspirHtion ot God, and is 
profitable tor doctrine, tor reproof, for correction, tor instruction in righteousness,' — '2 'I'lm. iii. 16. 
These texts appear profoundly uncognizant of the doctrine ot degrees: thev treat expressly of the 
subject of inspiration, they exhibit the scriptures as of uivine origin, they claim tor them just the 
authority and the influence which arise from their being wholly the woru ot God; and yet they 
afford no bint, and no loom or scope lor insinuation, that they, in any respect, differ from one 
another, or are ot different classes, as to the amount ot divine agency which gave them origin. 
^Vhoever reaus these texts, and others on tfie same suliject, and noes not alterv\ards lose sight of 
llieiii amid the maZes ot •' s_v stemaiic theology," will probably regard it as almost an axiom in 
Cnnsiiaiiity, the books and parts of scripture are all, in the same sense, and in the same pleiu. 
luue oi sup.rnatural ongm, the word of God. 


There is, indeed, one distinction, on this subject, which the Bible sanctions, — that, in some parts 
of scripture, the inspired writers did not, wjiile in other parts they did, understund the meaning of 
what they wrote, 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. But this distinction has reference only to the topics ot inspira- 
tion, and not to its degree or amount. Theological writers usually assume that a loftier or more 
powerful agency was needed for communicating matters which were not understood, tliHn for 
suggesting such as were easily comprehended, or for properly arranging and exhibiting those which 
were previously known. The mere fact that some parts of scripture were not understood by the 
inspired penmen, is hence the basis on whicli the whole theory of degrees in inspiration is Imilt. 
But why should it be tliought that matters not understood were the word of God by a higher 
agency, or in a sublimer sense, than matters which were comprehended, or had been observed ? 
Information, it is to be remembered, is not inspiration. Man knew, or might have known, by ordi- 
nary observation, many things recorded and taught in the Bible; but, in that case, he knew, or might 
have known them, only as matters oi information ; and he can know them as part of God's word, only 
when they are so arranged by infinite wisdom, and so combined and modified by infinite knowledge, 
and so imbued with the various sublime properties of divine authorship, as to possess a kind and an 
amount of moral influence which no skill or perspicacity of man can impart. Now, who will say 
that there was a smaller amount of divine agency in taking matters of human observation and eie. 
vating them to the standard and investing them with the power of divine communications, than in 
suggesting matters which were utterly unknown? The philosopher who disiourses to the mob 
about insects, and grasses, and pebbles, which are familiar to their oltservation, and are despised 
for their insignificance, and who successfully exhibits them as objects of the highest interest and 
wonder, achieves quite as noble a task, and exerts as strong an influence on their minds, hs he who 
discourses to them about the nebulae and the milky way, and leads them in bewilderment among 
the mazes of astronomy. Advocates for degrees in inspiration usually represent the writers of the 
historical parts of scripture, as having simpiv been preserved from error. But will they muke no 
allowance for the wise selection of materials, — lor the skilful collocation of parts, — for the just 
intermixture of narrative and moral lesson, — (or the exact exhibition of the most attractive or 
influential phases, — for omniscient adaptation to all capacities and varieties of readers, and to all 
conditions and ages of the world, — for the secret but powerful subordination of the statement of 
facts to the development of doctrines, — and for harmony, uniqueness, ami mutual subserviency, in 
relationship to each and all of the other parts of scripture? These, and kindred properties — and 
not merely correctness of narrative or accuracy of description — are what constitute the hi^toiical 
books the word of God. Now, who will say that the imparting ot these properties was less 
difficult, less superhuman, less eminently divine, than the simple suggesting or communicaiing of 
matters not understood ? A sacred historian was, in himself, or previous to his inspiration, encum- 
bered with the same weaknesses as other men: he viewed some matters through a false medium; 
attached to some disproportionate importance; he abstracted some from the principles on which 
they were really bnsed, and rested them on principles with which they had onl} remote connexion; 
he viewed events more in the materiel than in the morale, — more as detached and final occuiiences, 
than as direct expo>itors of moral truth; he looked at human actors rather as trending the ordinary 
arena of lite, than as performing their part in the /ultilment of the most stupendous councils of 
eternity; in a word, he had the thoughts and feelings, the predilections and prejudices, of a mere 
narrator. How, then, could he, in writing history, hecome a penman of tiie word ot God? liy 
being merely preserved from error? By enjoying only a low degree of supernatural influence? 
Surelv not. Had he previously known nothing ot what he was to write, his mind, as to teeling 
and prijiidxeand njisconception, would ha\e beiii free from mischievous and antagonistic influences, 
and would simply have had to receive communications made to it, as a child receives lessons about 
unknov\n things from a tutor. But encumbered, biassed, and wilful as his mind was, he required 
to be placed under active pressure, and subjected to a controlling eneigy. While he wrote, the 
laws ot ordinary human experience were suspended and contravened: his feelings were suboued, 
his prejudi(es countiracted, his predilections turned aside, and all his motivts and machinery of 
mere historiograjihy broken up or counterwoiked. His mind, in short, was supremely ruled by 
supernaturiil agency. The amount of divine energy requisite to make him an inspired penman, 
might, on principles of human calculation, be imagined to have been considtiably greater than that 
which v\as needed or enjoyed by a passive recipient of communications not understood. If, there- 
lore, degrees oi inspiration aie at all to be conceived of, the inspired historian may, on several 
grounds, and in important respects, be supposed to have had a higher degree than even the inspired 
prophet. The two, however, are not to be compared. Both enj0}e(l the fulness of divine influ- 
ence, — the plenitude ot inspiring energy. Equally in the writer of prophecies, in the w riter of 
didactics, and in the writer of narrative, the Holy Spirit exerted his supi rnatural power, — his power 
to exhibit lessons to man which could never have been constructed b) the efTorts ot human reason. 
All classes of the sacred penmen were inspired to the same degree, and in the same wa\, — to a de- 
gree truly and exclusively divine and in a way consistent with the unilormity of divine operation. 
What theological w riters call degrees of inspiration, are thus merely varieties and differences in the 
topics discussed. To one inspired penman was given the recording of visions; to another, the 
reporting of audible communications; to another, the exhibition of argumentative doctrine; to 
another, the statement of dehortation and precept; to another, the divinely instructive collocation 
of historical occurrences; and in each, as truly as in the others, the Holy Spirit's ageiic> was 
supreme, the same in energy and in mode of operation. What Paul sa\s respecting the varieties 
ot miraculous gilts, applies in principle to the varieties of inspiration: ' Now there are diversities 
of gilts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of administration, but tlie same Lord; and 
there are diversities of operations, {tvi^yny.aTuv, miraculous influences,) l)ut it is the same God which 
Morketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit wiihal. 
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knovvl>.d{ie by the 
I. H. 


same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 
toaiiothti ilie working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another (iiscerninjj of spirits; toanother 
divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretiitioii oT tongues: but all these worketh that one 
and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as lie will,' — 1 Cor. xii. 7 — I 1. " All these 
gifts," says Dr. Clarke, paraphrasing the last of these verses, "are miraculously bestowed ; they 
cannot be acquired by human art or industry, the ditferent languages excepted; but tiny were yiveii 
in such a way, and in such circumstances, as sufficiently proved that tltey also were miraculous gifts." 

[Note V. Verbal Inspiration Dr. Ridgeley chiefly proves the possibility and desirableness of 

plenary verbal inspiration, but does not give direct arguments for the fact. I shall briefly state 
three which be might have adduced. 

1. As the mind thinks only in words, inspiration must either have presented ideas clothed in 
appropriate languai.'e, or have merely incited or strengthened the mind to invent or discover them. 
To have done the latter, would have been only to itivigorate, not to reveal: it would have been to 
• nable man to discover or invent religious truths for himself, not to communicate or present them 
to his iinderstiinding. But all believers in inspiration agree that it dealt, not with the mind, but 
with ideas. Why, then, do any of them deny that it dealt with words? Apart from words, either 
symbolic or arbitrary, there are no ideas. A man has a confused consciousness that some given idea 
was at one period preserit to his mind; he endeavours to recal it, but cannot succeed; he throws 
away the words employed in his fruitless effort, and adopts others; be now begins to perceive the 
idea, but perceives it obscurely; he next modifies and alters the words, till at length they bring the 
idea befoie him in all its plenitude and clearness. A process like this may be every hour detected 
by any man who attends to his own consciousness; and it distinctly shows that, constituted as the 
human mind is, ideas and words, as matters of thought, are insepariible. An infant, or a dumb 
person, is not an exception ; for he thinks in symbols, and, in consequence, possesses ideas of only 
such objects as are cognizable by sense. Whoever receives a new idea, expresses it to his own 
mind in terms succinct, diffuse, clear, obscure, or otherwise, corresponding to its own properties; 
and, if it be laulty, he progressively rectifies it, as he removes the ambiguities, redundancies, or 
improprieties of its appropriate phraseology. To say, then, that inspiration dealt not at all, or 
but partially, with words, is tantamount to saying that it dealt not at all, or but partially, with 
ideas. Even in matters, such as facts and sayings, which were previously known to the writers by 
personal observation, inspiration must either have dealt chiefly w ith words, or it must have am-ounted 
to no more than a moral influence on the heart. Mere correctness in stating facts, and especially 
the exhibition of their influential phases, and the perception of their morale, of their connexion 
with doctrines, and of their harmony with the general scheme of revelation, consisted chiefly, if Hot 
solely, in propriety of language, or in strict accuracy of graphic delineation. The communicaiing of 
ideas independently of words would, in fact, have been a suspension of the laws of human thought, 
— a contravening of the methods by which the human understanding works; and it would liave 
served the purpose — of doing what? of imparting the highest certainty to the truth of what the 
penmen wrote? no, but of impairing that certainty, if not even utterly destroying it. For, 

2. Such une(lucate,d men as most of the sacred writers were, and, indeed, any men wliatever, 
could not so overcome the multitudinous errancies of language, as to express any ideas w ith infallible 
certainty, unless they had been divinely directed to the adoption of suitable words. Persons who 
have attended much to literary composition, and have been habituated for years to sift their style 
and make iiiipiovements in their diction, would all lauyh at the absurdity of an expectation that, 
within the period of their lite, they should ever become able to write a tiactate with such accuracy 
as woiilii preclude their aftervv arils detecting in it ambiguities, improprieties, or other blemisiies in 
phraseology affecting tiie clearness or the truth of their sentiments. 'J'he entiie force of a paiagraph, 
or of a continuous piece of reasoning, frequently depends upon great iiiceiiess in the selection of a 
single expression. One s-lighlly iiiaccnrate vocanie may vitiate a hi>torical statement. Yet, in all 
countries and in all circumstances, mistakes and improprieties, in the just use ol w ords, occur among 
the illiteiale \i\ the thousand. An uneducated man utters hamly one sentence upon an abstract 
subject, or ujion any topic bevond the range of ever\-day obser\ation, wiihout employing some 
word in an improper sense. E^en very moderate, or comparative correctness of diction, can be 
attained onl\ alter prolonged and studious practice. Nor, as it exists amoi g the greatest masters 
of it, does It ever become such as to preclude frequent misapprehension, coiitro\ ersy, and doubt. 
Thousands of debates continually arise from defects of precision and clearness in the diction of 
authors. JJy .hat hypothesis, then, short of "a f;ift of tongues." a t;ift of rhetoric, a gift from on 
high of exai tly understanding and accurately selecting the most suitalile wor<ls, — a gift tantamount, 
in all nspecls, to verbal in.-piratioh, can the herdsman of Tekoa, and the lisherinen of Galilee, be 
supposed to have delineated, in perfectly correct phraseology, the sentiments which they wrote? 

3. The scriptures declare themselves to contain, not only the truths, but the words of God. 
Such portions ol them as were gi»eii to the inspired writers by audible communication, must be 
either garbled reports of what God said, or transcripts of his precise words. All the moral, cere- 
monial, and judicial law, — all the heavenly communications to Job, — all the messages to kings and 
nations by tlie prophets, — these, at hast, and some kirn. red portions ot the sacred volume, were 
originally gi\eii in words, and must have lieeii co.mmittid to writing cxuctly as thev weie received. 
Nou, not onlt lor the words of them, but for the \»or(is of the hi>tories in \\hieh they are interspersed, 
an<l of tlie songs and didactics w ith which they are accompanied, tin.' inspired writers claim entire reve- 
rence and subjection as to 'the wordsol God.' ' Hear, therefore, O Israel, these words which 1 command 

thee this (1,1, shall be in thine heart, and thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children,' Deut. 

vi. '1, Ci, 7. ' 'I'lnreloie shall ye lay up these my n ords in yuur in ait, and in your soul, and l)ind 
them lor a si,:;n upon your hand, thev in ly t)e as Irontl ts between your e\es,' — Deut. xi. 18. 
' And Moses came and spake all the words ol tiiis song in the eais of the people, he and Hoshea tL« 


son of Nun. Ami Moses made an end of speaking all thesz icords to all Israel: and he said unto 
them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this <iay, which ye shall com- 
maud your children to observe to do, all the uords of this law,' — Deut. xxxii. 44 — 46. ' Give ear, 
O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a 
paralile ; 1 will utter dark sayings of old; which we have heard and knav\n, and our fathers have 
told us,' — Psal. Ixxviii. 1 — 3. Who can read such texts as these, — texts which reter to the entire 
pentateuch, or to others of the sacred books, historical, didactic, and legislative, without identifying 
inspiration with the words as truly as with the sentiments of scripture? In how solenni an aspect, 
especially, do the words appear in such a passage as this: ' I testify unto every man that heareth 
the words of the pro|)hecy of this book, If any man shall add unto tliese things, God shall add unto 
him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of 
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy 
city, and from the things which are written in this book,' — Rev. xxii. 18, 19. Scripture, when 
claiming to be an authoritative revelation, thus makes special mention of its words; and, when 
claiming to be inspired, or describing the influence which rested on its penmen, it, on tlie same 
principle, makes mention, not of a process of thinking, but of a process of speaA/n^. ' God, who at 
sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in 
these last days spoken unto us by his Son,' — Heb. i. 1, 2. * When they deliver you up, take no 
thought how or what ye shall speak; tor it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall 
speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of 3 0ur Father which speaketh in you,' — Matt. x. 
19, 2U. ' No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation ; tor tlie prophec\ came not 
in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the lluly Ghost,' 
— 2 Pet. i. 20, 21. Now, though it were doubted — while it cannot be denied, much less disproved 
— that man always thinks in words; it will, on all hands, be readily admitted that, at least, he 
always speaks in words. To speak and not use words, is just as impossible as to see and not pos- 
sess light. Yet the texts I have just quoted — referring to all the inspired communicaiions made 
through the prophets under the Jewish dispensation, to the entire ' prophecy which was ot old time,' 
to all the 'more sure word of prophecy,' and to all the suggestions and supernatural communications 
of the Divine Spirit to the minds of the apostles — distinctly say, ' God spake to the lathers,' ' the 
Spirit of your Father speaketh in you,' 'holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy 
Ghost.' Who does not feel as if sedulous care were used in sucii statements, not only to state, but 
to inculcate and protect the doctrine of verbal inspiration? Or who, with these ftateaienls before 
him, can coolly conceive of an abstract infusion of unexpressed ideas to the mind, and make no 
advertence to the simultaneous adjustment ot them to an appiopriate utterance on the lips? 'The 
speaking of God by the prophets,' the 'speaking of the Spirit in' the apostles, it is freely admitted, 
was not vocal, but mental; but still it was 'speaking.' It was not the infusion ot the mere materials 
of thought; it was the suggestion, the communication, or the utterance of expressed ideas; it was a 
process which, in its very nature, was conducted in the use of woids. 

The three arguments which I have stated apply equally to all parts of scripture, and confront 
the theory which denies the plenary verbal inspiration of only some of the sacred books, as well 
as that which denies the plenary verbal inspiration of the whole. The notion entertained by 
some eminent theologians that the writers of the historical books were left in a great measure to 
choose their own phraseology, while the writers of visons and prophecies enjoyed full verbal in- 
spiration, arises altogether from the doctrine v\hich we examined m a former note as to there having 
been degrees of inspiring influence. Let that doctrine of degrns stand exploded, and it follows 
that if verbal inspiration pervades any one part of sciipture, it pervades the whole. Just such rea- 
sons as were assigned for the truth or necessity of entirely superliuman influence in writing the his- 
torical as in wrmiig the prophetical books, might be adduced also to shoa the truth or necessity of 
an uniform verbal inspiration. 

Persons who contend that the sacred writers chose their own phraseology, usually appeal to their 
respective, characteristic varieties of diction. Is it, then, gravel) alleged — can it even be seriously 
insinuated — that the Holj, Spirit, when inspiring words, must have framed and unilormly loilov\ed 
a diction [leculiar to himsell ? Or is it assumed that he must have adojited t he existing and approved 
diction of some cl.issic author as his model ? All languages, all styles, all systems of [ihraseology 
were surely alike knoAU, alike n.anageable, alike facile to God. To his unerring and ouinipo- 
tent agenc\, Hebrew, Cbaldair, and Greek weie equally practicable media for an mtallible commu- 
nication ol his will. Why, then, should not diversities of Hebrew, or diversities ot Greek, espe- 
cially such diversities as are usually designated by the word 'stJe?' His influence on the 
writers was strictli of a moral nature; it did not alter the physical complexion, or mouifv the 
characterisiic \arieties ot thtir intellectual powers: why, then, sliould it have taught them a new 
rhetoiic, or maiie alterations on their inionis and vocabulary? If their characteristic habits of ex- 
co{:itation were a practicable medium ot the inspiraiion of ideas, — their characteristic habits of 
phraseology inust have been as irul. a practical medium of the inspiration of words. Let the sacred 
writtrs' saneties of st}le he emploveu to prove that they chose their ovmi phraseolo-v, and their 
varietu s ot mental character — tlie ratiocinativeness ot Paul, the tire and energy of Peter', the uiand- 
iiess and gentleness of John— niav, from the same principle, be employed to prove that they chose 
their own ideas. There seems to me, in fact, no con-istent medium between the thtory which views 
scM() ure as a merely authentic record, and the theory which views it as in the fullest sense inspired. 

Ptr.-oiis -\ho coiittnd that the sacred writers chose their own phrasiology, appeal, furtlier, to the 
quotations made in the liooks ot tne New Testament from those of the Old' — many ot whicli, while 
tn. y retain the sentiment, considerably alter the expression. But quotation in one book of scrip- 
ture Irom what is written in another, is not, in any proper sense ot the phrase, quotation bv one 
author from another, but srictly an author's quotation tiom himself. Now, may not any h'umai. 
author repeat a sentiment in totally ditferent words, or quote from a previous work of his own iu 


altered phraseology, without either modify ing his ideas, or ; ffording atiy just oocasioii for suspicion 
tliat he does not, both in tlie passage as quoted from, and in the passage as quoted, use strictly 
his own words ? If he say in all respects the same thing which he said hetore. lie rather coinniands 
admiration, than provokes distrust, by the variation of liis diction. And shall the inspiring Spirit, 
who dictated the sacred scriptures, be restricted to a rule of writing which does not apply to ordinary 
composition, — which is altogether imaginary or capricious, — and which ascrilies to him less power 
of preserving identity of idea than what is possessed by a human author? Tlie inspired pi nuien, 
besides, were controlled in their phraseology, or directed to the adoption of « ords, only so tar as to 
secure itifallibility in the truth of what they wrote ; they were not propelled away from phrases or 
modes of expression which were usual to them, on account of their being idiomatic, or unchissical, 
or otherwise peculiar; and as the apostles and evangelists were accustomed to think of Old 'l\'sta- 
ment scripture in the wor«is of the Septuagint version, they made their quotations, so as com- 
ported with perfect accuracy of idea, in the language best known to themselves and their immediate 
readers. They could not quote the ipsissima verba of any passage, unless they bad quoted in He- 
brew. They in reality translated, rather than quoted ; and, while employing such Greek phiases 
and modes of expression as were known to them, they were guided, as the amanuetises of the Holy 
Spirit, to select ami modify with a view simply to the iiifallibly correct statement of the sentiments 
translated. If, then, any author may either give a free translation of any passage in his oun writ- 
ings, or quote (rom himself in altered phraseology, and yet maintain both integrity of idea and 
originality of expression, the objection against verbal inspiration, based on variations of Old Testa- 
ment texts as they occur in the New, amounts merely to the capricious prescribing to the Holy 
Spirit of a rule of composition which is unknown and inapplicable in the literature of any langnnge. 
Persons who contend that the sacred writers chose their own phraseology, object, finally, that 
the doctrine of verbal inspiration is subversive of the authority of translations. Do they mean, 
then, to say, that translations — that all translations, or any — are of the same authority as the ori- 
ginal scriptures? If so, the Jeromes of the early centuries and the Careys and De I>ac\s, the Pro- 
testant missionaries and the Romish universities of modern times, must have enjoyed just as much 
divine aid in rendeiing inspired truths into words, as the sacred historians, the apostles of our Lord, 
or even the writers of prophecies and visions. What a revolting hypothesis! Does it exalt the 
mistakes of Jerome or the blutnlers of De Lacy to the standard of the unerring phraseology of 
Paul ami Isaiah ? No ; hut it robs the diction of all the inspired penmen of its intallilile aceuiacy, 
and sinks it to a level with the crudities of Arius Montanusand the distortions of the Duuay trans- 
lators. Or, when the opponents of verbal inspiration speak of the authority of translations, do 
they mean merely an authority proportioned to the amount of agreement between the translations 
and the original? If so, the authority is firm and high, just in the degree in which the diction 
of the original is certain. Represent a phrase as humanly selected, and you leave a translator in 
doubt whether he ought rigiiiiy to follow it; but represent it as selected by infinite knowledge 
and wis(ioin, and you make him secure that he will bring through the idea which it expresses all 
the more certainly that he adheres closely to its vocables. Variations of translation, ami the sub- 
tilties and uncertainties of phraseology which they elicit, are a strong practical argument — not 
againut the verbal inspiration of the original, but Jbr the absolute necessity of it, as a final and in- 
fallible appeal trom the misconceptions or errors of translators. 

I shall conclude by offering a rapid summary of the views of inspiration advocated in these 
Notes. — Inspiration so iully and divinely controlled the minds of the sacred penmen, as to make 
them the mere amanuenses of Deity; and yet it exerted no modifying intluence on the physical 
phenomena of their reminiscences, or on their acquired or peculiar habits of [ihraseology. An 
inspired writer, in some instances, did not know the moral import of the visions or figures of 
speech which he committed to writing; and, in other instances, he understood, appreciated, and 
attested the matters suggested to him as simple reminiscences of what he had personally 
seen and heard. He also clothed both sentiments and facts in exactly such expressions or 
words as were supernaturally suggested to his mind; and yet, as appears from the diversity 
of stile among the various writers, as well as from the purely moral nature of inspiration, he v\a8 
pioni|)tvii to use onl'v such vocables as were familiar to him, and to arrange them in the order ot his 
accusioiiied idioms and habitual phrases. Inspiration did not supersede, repress, or modify any of 
the intellectual peculiarities of a writer; but was concerned solely with the perlect moral and ver- 
bal accuracy, the infallible correctness, the divine integrity of what he wrote — Ed.] 

[Note W. The Evidence of Miracles — Hume had not flourished when Dr. Kidgeley wrote. 
Could our author have foreseen what dogmas that infidel promulged on the subject of miracles, 
with what metaph\sical subtilty he laboured to render them specious, and how extensive a hearing 
they have obtained in society, he would probably have treate<i a denial of miracles more gravely 
than he does. What answer is it to the cavils of a disciple of Hume to say that the reality of 
mirailes "can hardly be reckoned a matter in controversy, tor it is a kind o( scepticism to deny it?" 
Yet such an answer, if due emphasis be put on the word "scepticism," is probably the only one which 
so wild a theory as that of Hume deserved. Scepticism, especially as exhibited in him, is the most 
inconsistent and grotesque grouping of vagaries that ever figured before the human fancy. It puts 
on ever\-day garments, and follows the current fashions of the world, in every matter of domestic 
life, of commerce, of arts, of politics, of science; hut when matter of religion comes to view, it 
then, and only then, puts on a harlequin dress, and professes to be deaf, dumb, blind, and invisible, 
knoniiig nothing, and incapable of being known. 

Whoever wishes to see Hume's sophisms anatomized, may consult the works of Dr. Campbell 
and Dv. Heattie. We can afford only to hint at his attempts to upset the evidence of miracles. 
His otijeciion, that no human testimony is sufficient to prove a miracle, rests on principles which 
are contrary to common sense, and which no man, not even Mr. Hume himself, ever ventured to 
apply to secular subjects. He misstates the nature of human testimony ; he ndsapprehends, or 


misrepresents, the laws, or established constitution of nature; he sets prineiples at war with prin- 
ciples in his argument; and only, a(ti r hnving done all this, iloes he arrive at the conclusion which 
gives countenance to his objection. As to his allegation that, though the authenticity oi miracles 
might be quite satisfactory to coteinporaries, it is not so to after ages, hut progressively diminishes 
wiih the lapse of time, till it becomes extinct, — who does not see that, if this were true, all authen- 
tic history has long ago become fal)ulous, and that the credible history of to-day will l)ecome hction 
to future ages? The allegation supposes the evidence of testimony, like an inscription or a s-culp- 
tured emblem on a soft stone, to waste away by the attrition of time, and, however legible at first, 
to become annihilated by age. But who that reflects (or a moment on the nature of human testi- 
mon\, on the considerations which give it force, nnd on the phenomena of its just and universal 
influence in producing conviction, does not perceive tbut, as to the qualities or the validity ot its 
evidence, it has no coimexion whatever with time, and that, as attesting any tact, it is invar. ably 
of the same force as when first piven, so long as it is transmitted amid a fair accompanying view of 
the circumstances which originallv produced it credit? All the abundant and luminous testimony 
which is on record as to the reality of the miracles of our Lord and his apostles, remains, therefore, 
of the same force in the iiineteentti century, as in the davs ot Tiberius Caesar — Ed.] 

[NoTK X. The Spirits of the Prophets subject to the Prophets. — Dr. Ridgeley seems to me to 
mistake the sense ol this passage. Paul does, indeed, as he remarks, speak, in the context, ot pro- 
phets uttering revelation and ot others ju<iging ; but he mentions these topics, especially tlie latter, 
only in subordination to the grand object ot his argument. Wiiat he treats of throughout six preced- 
ing, and five following \ the practicability, desirableness, and necessity of observing decorous 
order in the exercise ol supermitural gifts, fie enjoins those who possessed the gilt ot unknown 
tonguf s, to speak by course, and to allow time for others to interpret what they said ; he next en- 
joins those «ho possessed the gift of prophecy to speak by turns, and each to hold his peace when 
anytliing was reseah d to another who sat by ; and now, in order to show the propriety of v\hat he 
enjoined, he says, ' Ye may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted ; 
and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not the author of confusion, 
but of ()eace, as in all the churches of the saints.' To prophecy one by one, or in orderly rotation, 
was essential to the edification and comfort of hearers; it was harmonious with the character of 
him liy whom the projihets were inspired ; and it was in keeping with the moral and perfectly con- 
trolhiijle nature of the gifts enjoyed. The last of these ideas, as appears to me, is what the words 
expiess: " The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.* The spirits of the prophets, as 
such — the spirits which constituted them prophets — the spirits, not of the men personuUt , but of 
the men as announcers of revelation — in othi r words, * the spiritual gifts of the prophets were sub- 
ject to the prophets;' they were not incontrollable or impetuous; they did not suddenly seize the 
understandihg, and overpoweringly propel it; but they were calm and ratiocinative and orderly, 
tranquil in their influence, decorous in their display, and, in all respects, stamped with the impress 
' of liieir author's character, as the God, not 'of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.' 
Dr. Ri< geley's mistaking tlie meaning of the text, however, does not impair the argument which 
he adduces his view of it to support. Other texts teach, though this does not, that one of the 
snperinitural gilts of the apostolic age was the gift of * tiiscerning spirits;' and they contain inter- 
nal evidence that this gift consisted in a power of discriminating between true and spurious preten- 
sions to the enjojmeni of supernatural influence. The 'discerning of spirits,' or ot spiritual gifts, 
it is true, had immediate reference to the gifts of tongues, of interpretation of tongues, of prophe- 
sying, ot miracles, and to others of a kuuired char icter ; but it may, at the same time, be supposed 
or even proved to have included within its range the gift — if 1 may call it so — of inspiration, — the 
amanuensis-ship of the written oracles of God. — Ed.] 

[Note Y. Inward Testimony of the Spirit to the authority of Scripture. — Had Dr. Ridgeley 
treated of an inward testifier, instead of an inward testimony, lie would have adhered to his text. 
The words of the Catechism on which he comments, are : ' But the Spirit of God, bearing w itness 
by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the 
ver> word of God.' These words, on the whole, contain sound doctrine; but they speak not of 
a testimony to the truth of scripture, not of an evidence that the Bible is the word of God, but of 
the agency of the fioly Spirit m enliglitening the understanding, and producing conviction m the 
hea'it. They speak indeed of the Spirit ' i)earing witness;' but they do not mean that he bears 
gome testimony additional to what is contained in the scriptures, — some testimony which exists 
apart from the other evidences of revelation, and mav be viewed as 'inward in the heart.' What 
they mean by 'bearing witness,' is simply disclosing the evidences to the understanding, so as to 
produce ' peisuasion' or conviction. They are laulty only in using an ambiguous phrase, or one 
which does not justly express the idea winch they intend to conve). 

'I'he 'inward testimony ' of which Dr. Ridgeley treats, is less sanctioned by scripture than even 
by the words of the Catechism. He clearly views it and treats it as a distinct and separate evi- 
dent e tliat the Bible is the word of God. He is sufficiently inconsistent or confused, indeed, to 
call it ■ a satistung and establishing /jersMoseon that the scriptures are the word ot God ;' but he imme- 
diately adds, that it is ' a persuasion supported by other evidences and convincing arguments.' His ' in- 
ward testimony' is one evidence, while miracles, prophecies, harmony ot doctrines, power ut moral 
influences, are other evidences of the truth of revelation. Now ihere is no such testiinou}, no such 
evidence, — no evidence or testimony inward in the believer, or apart from such as exist, without 
him, and are presented exteriorly to his understanding. What Dr. Ridgeley represents as an 'in- 
ward testimony,' is, in reality, the result of all the testimonies to the truth of scripture, — the 
effect upon the mind of all the evidences of revelation, — the persuasion or conviction that the 
Bible is the word ot God, produced by the Holy Spirit's exhibition of the evidences to the under- 
standing, and impressing ot them on the Ueart. 

There are just three texts of scripture (1 John v. 10; Rom. \iii. IG; Gal. iv. G.) which speak of 


anything resembling 'an inward testimony ,*' and tiiey all treat of a topic widely diflferent from the 
evidences of inspiration. The chief of these is in tlie First Epistle of Joliii ; and, when rightly nn- 
derstood, it explains the others. Our English version greatly mars it, in consequence of translat- 
ing the correlatives fjnt^rv^tu and fut^rv^ia correspoinling to • testify ' and ' testimony,' by three radi- 
cally different words. I^et due uintormity be observed, and the passage stands self-explained; 
• There are three that bear testimony on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood ; and these 
three ai;ree in one. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this 
is the testimony of God, which he hath testified concerning his Son. He that believeth on the Son 
of Go<i, hath the testimony in himself; he that believeth not God, hath made him a liiir, be- 
cause he believeth not the testimony which God gave concerning his Son. And this is the testi- 
moiiv, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son.' The last of these verses 
is a key to the whole. The testimony of whicii the entire passage treats, is this, that God has 
given us, in bis Son, everlasting life. It is a testimony, not that the Bible is of divine origin, but 
that, in terms ubich it announces, God has given man salvation: it is not a testimony in the heart 
with reference to the Bible, but a testimony in the Bible with reference to the heart. It is in- 
scribed on the pages of revelation ; it forms the substance of all the lessons and discoveries of scrip- 
ture; and, when understood and believed, it is transcribed in the experience, and exhibited in the 
renovation, and life, and hope, and joy of the soul. * He that believeth, hath the testimony in him- 
self.' He is an epistle of Christ, known and read of all men. His faitii, his peace with God, his 
new nature, his rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, are a living inscription that ' God hath given 
to us eternal life, and that this life is in his Son.' 


Question V. What do the scriptures principally teach ? 

Answer. The scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what 
duty God requires of man. 

The scriptures having, in the foregoing answer, been shown to be the word of God, 
there is in this a general account of the contents of them. There are many great 
doctrines contained in them, all which may be reduced to two heads ; namely, what 
we are to believe, and what we are to do. All religion is contained in these two 
things ; and we may apply the words of the apostle to this case, ' Now of the things 
which we have spoken, this is the sum.'^ Accordingly, as this Catechism is de- 
duced from scripture, it contains two parts, — namely, what we are to believe, and 
in what instances we are to yield obedience to the law of God. That the scriptures 
principally teach these two things, appears from the apostle's advice to Timothy, 
' Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love.'" 
From the scripture's principally teaching us matters of faitli and practice, we 
infer, that ' faith without works is dead ;' or that he is not a true Christian who 
yields an assent to divine revelation, without a practical subjection to God in all 
ways of holy obedience. The apostle accordingly gives a challenge, to this effect, 
to those who separate faith from works ; ' Show me thy faith without thy works, 
and I will show thee my iaith by my works.' "^ On the other hand, works without 
faith arc unacceptable. A blind obedience, or ignorant performance, of some of the 
external parts of religion, without the knowledge of divine truth, is no better tlian 
what the apostle calls ' bodily exercise, which profiteth little.' ^ We ouglit, thgre- 
fore, if we would approve ourselves .sincere Christians, to examine ourselves whether 
our faith be founded on, or truly deduced from scripture ; and whether it be a 
practical faith, or, as the apostle says, such as ' worketh by love,'^ — whether we 
grow in knowledge, as well as in zeal and diligence, in performing the duties of 

Question VI. What do the scriptures make knoivn of God f 

Answer. The scriptures make known what God is, the persons in the Godhead, the decrees 
and the execution of his decrees. 

It is an amazing instance of condescension, and an inexpressible favour whicli God 
bestows on man, that he should not only manifest himself to him, as he does to all 

b Heb. viii. 1. c 2 Tim. i. 13. d James ii. 17, !«• e 1 Tim. iv. 8. f Gal. v. C. 


mankind, by the light of nature, which discovers that he is ; hut that he should, 
in so glorious a way, as he does in his woi'd, declare what he is. This is a distin- 
guishing privilege. The Psalmist observes that it is such, when speaking of God's 
' showing his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel ;'s and 
he mentions it, as an instance of discriminating grace, that ' he has not dealt so 
with any other nation.' This raised the admiration of one of Christ's disciples, 
when he said, ' Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto 
the world ?^ And it is still more wonderful, that he should discover to man what 
he does, or rather what he has decreed or purposed to do, and so should impart his 
secrets to him. How familiarly does God herein deal with man! Thus he says 
concerning the holy patriarch of old, ' Shall I hide from Abraham the thing which 
I do ?' It is one thing, however, to know the secret purposes of God, and another, 
thing to know the various properties of them. The former, however known of old 
by extraordinary intimation, are now known to us only by the execution of them : 
the latter may be known by a careful study of the scriptures. 

Now, as the scriptures make known, First, what God is, — Secondly, the Per- 
sons in the Godhead, — Thirdly, his Decrees, — and. Fourthly, the Execution there- 
of ; we are directed hereby in the method to be observed in treating of the great 
doctrines of our religion. Accordingly, the first part of this Catechism, which 
treats of doctrinal subjects, contains an enlargement on these four general heads, 
—the first of which we now proceed to consider. 


QcESTioN VII. What is God? 

Answer. God i? a Spirit, in and of himself, infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection, 
all sutficient, eteinal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all 
things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant 
ill goodness and truth. 

General view of the Divine Attributes. 

Before we proceed to consider the divine perfections, as stated in this answer, let 
it be premised, that it is impossible for any one to give a perfect description of 
God ; since he is incomprehensible. No words can fully express, or set forth, his 
perfections. When the wisest men on earth speak of him, they soon betray their 
own weakness, or discover, as Elihu says, that they 'cannot order their speech 
by reason of darkness, '^^ or that 'they are but of yesterday, and know,' comparatively, 
'nothing.'^ When we speak of the infinite perfections of the divine nature, we are 
but like children, talking of matters above them, which their tender age can take 
in but little of. ' This knowledge is too wonderful for us ; it is high, we cannot 
attain to it. ' ™ ' How little a portion is heard of him ? ' " 

But though God cannot be perfectly described, yet there is something of him 
which we may know, and ought to make the matter of our study and diligent in- 
quiries. When his glory is set forth in scripture, we are not to look upon the ex- 
pressions made use of, as words without any ideas afiixed to them, — for it is one 
thing to have adequate ideas of an infinitely perfect being, and another thing to 
have no ideas at all of him ; neither are our ideas of God, though imperfect, to be 
for this reason reckoned altogether false, — for it is one thing to think of him in 
an unbecoming way, not agreeable to his perfections, or to attribute the weakness 
and imperfection to him which do not belong to his nature, and another thing to 
think of him, with the highest and. best conceptions we are able to entertain of his 
mfinite perfections, while, at the same time, we have a due sense of our own weak- 
ness and the shallowness of our capacities. When we thus order our thoughts con- 

g Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. h John xiv. 22. i Gen. xviii. 17. k Job xxxvii. 19. 
1 Chap. viii. 9. m Psal. cxxxix. 6. Job xxvi. 14. 


cerning the great God, though we are far from comprehending his infinite perfec- 
tions, jet our conceptions are not to be concluded erroneous, when directed by 
his word. 

Let us consider then, how we may conceive aright of the divine perfections, that 
we ma}' not think or speak of Clod that which is not right, though at best we know 
but little of his glory. And, 1. We must first take an estimate of finite perfections, 
which we have some ideas of, though not perfect ones in all respects, — such as 
power, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, &c. ; then we must conceive that these are 
eminently, though not formally, in God. Whatever perfection is in the creature, 
the same is in God, and infinitely more ; or it is in God, but not in such a finite, 
limited, or imperfect way, as it is in the creature. ' He that planted the ear, shall 
he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall not he see ? He that teacheth man 
knowledge, shall not he know? '" 2. When the same words are used to denote a 
perfection in God, and in the creature, such as wisdom, power, &c., we must not 
suppose that they import the same thing in their diff'erent application. When they 
are applied to the creature, they denote properties, which, though we call them per- 
fections, are, at best, but finite, and have many imperfections attending them, — all 
which we must separate or abstract in our thoughts, when the same words are used 
to set forth any divine perfection. Thus knowledge is a pei'fection of the human 
nature ; and the word knowledge is used to denote a divine perfection; yet we must 
consider that 'the Lord seeth not as man seeth.'P The same may be said of all 
his other perfections. He worketh not as man worketh. Whatever perfections are 
ascribed to the creature, are to be considered as agreeable to the subject in which 
tliey exist ; and when the words denoting them are used to set forth any of the 
divine perfections, they are to be understood in a way becoming a God of infinite 

. This has given occasion to divines to distinguish the perfections of God, into 
those that are communicable, and those that are incommunicable. The commu- 
nicable perfections of God are those some faint resemblance of which we find in 
intelligent creatures ; though at the same time, there is an infinite disproportion. 
When, for example, we speak of God as holy, wise, just, powerful, or faithful, we 
find something like these perfections in the creature ; though we are not to suppose 
them, in all respects, the same as they are in God. In him, they are in his own, 
that is, an infinite way. In us, they are in our own, that is, a finite and limited 
way. The incommunicable perfections of God are those of which there is not the 
least shadow or similitude in creatures. They rather represent him as contrasted 
by them. Thus when we speak of him as infinite, incomprehensible, unchangeable, 
without beginning, independent, &c., we ascribe to him perfections which exhibit 
the vast distance that there is between God and the creature, or how infinitely he 
exceeds all other beings, and is the opposite of every thing that argues imperfection 
in them. [See note Z, end of section.] 

From the general account we have given of the divine perfections, we may infer, 
1. That there is nothing common between God and the creature ; that is, there is 
nothing which belongs to the divine nature which can be attributed to the creature, 
and nothing proper to the creature is to be applied to God. There are, however, 
some rays of the divine glory, which may be beheld as shining forth or displayed 
in the creature, especially in the intelligent part of the creation, angels and men ; 
who are for that reason, represented as made after the divine image. 2. Let us 
never think or .speak of the perfections of God, but with the hig-hest reverence, lest 
we take his name in vain, or debase liim in our thoughts. ' Shall not his excel- 
lency make you afraid, and his dread fall upon you ?'i And whenever we compare 
God with the creatures, namely, angels and men, that bear somewhat of his image, 
let us abstract in our thoughts all their imperfections, whether natural or moral, Irom 
him, and consider the infinite disproportion that there is between him and them. 
We now come to consider the perfections of the divine nature, in the order in which 
they are laid down in tliis answer. 

o PshI. xciv. 9, 10. p 1 Sam. xvi. 7. q Job .\iii. 11. 


The Spirituality of God. 

God is a Spirit, that is, an immaterial substance, without body, or bodily parts. 
This he is said to be in John iv. 24. But if it be inquired what we mean by a 
spirit, let it be premised, that we cannot fully understand what our own spirits or 
souls are, and that we know less of the nature of angels, a higher kind of spirits, and 
least of all the spirituality of the divine nature. In considering the nature and 
properties of spirits, however, our ideas begin at what is finite, and thence we are 
led to conceive of God as infinitely more perfect then any finite spirit. 

Here we shall consider the word spirit, as applied more especially to angels, and 
the souls of men. A spirit is the most perfect and excellent being. The soul is 
more excellent than the body, or indeed than any thing that is purely material ; 
and angels are the most perfect and glorious part of the creation, as they are spiri- 
tual beings, in some things excelling the souls of men. A spirit is in its own naJ^ 
ture immortal : it has notliing in its fi-ame and constitution that tends to cori'up- 
tion. In material things, which consist of various parts, that may be dissolved or 
separated, and may assume an altered form, there is what we call corruptibility. 
This, however, belongs not to spirits, which are liable to no change in their nature, 
except by the immediate hand of God, who can, if he pleases, reduce them again to 
nothing. A spirit is capable of understanding and willing, and of performing cor- 
responding actions, which no other being can do. Thus, though the sun is a glori- 
ous and useful being, yet, because it is material, it is not capable of thought or 
any moral action, such as angels and the souls of men can perform. 

Now these conceptions of the nature and properties of finite spirits, lead us to 
conceive of God as a Spirit. As spirits excel all other creatures, we must conclude 
that God is the most excellent and perfect of all beings, and also that he is 'incor- 
ruptible, immortal, and invisible,' as he is said to be in scripture.'" It follows that he 
has an understanding and will , and hence we may conceive of him as the creator 
and governor of all things. This he could not be, if he were not an intelligent and 
sovereign being, and particularly a Spirit. Again, the difference between other 
.spiritual substances and God, is, that all their excellency is only comparative, or 
consists in their being superior in their nature and properties to all material beings; 
while God, as a Spirit, is infinitely more excellent, not only than all material be- 
ings, but than all created spirits. Their perfections are derived from him, and 
therefore he is called, ' the Father of .spirits,'^ and 'the God of the spirits of all 
flesh ;'^ but his perfections are underived. Other spirits are, as we have observed, 
in their own nature, immortal, yet God can reduce them to nothing ; but God is 
independently immortal, and therefore it is said of him, that ' he only hath immor- 
tality.'" Finite spirits, indeed, have understanding and will, but these powers are 
contained within certain limits ; whereas God is an infinite Spirit, and therefore it, 
can be said of none but him, that ' his understanding is infinite.'^ 

From God's being a Spirit, we may infer, 1. That he is the most suitable good to 
the nature of our souls, which are spirits. As the God and Father of spirits, hft 
can communicate himself to them, and apply to them those things which tend to 
make them happy. 2. He is to be worshipped in a spiritual manner,^ that is, with 
our whole souls, and in a way becoming the spirituality of his nature. We are, 
therefore, to frame no similitude or resemblance of him in our thoughts, as though 
he were a corporeal or material being ; neither are we to make any pictures of him. 
This God forbids Israel to do;^ and he tells them, that they had not the least pre- 
tence for doing it, inasmuch as they ' saw no similitude of him, when he spake to 
them in Horeb ;' he tells them also that to make an image of him would be to 
' corrupt themselves.' 

r Rom. i. 23. and 1 Tim. i. 17. s Heb. xii. 9. t Numb, xvi 22. u J Tim. vi. 16. 

X Psal. cxlvii. 5. y John iv. 24. z Deut. iv. 12, 15, 16. 

L L 


The Self-existence of God. 

God is said to be ' in, and of, himself,' not as though he gave being to, or was 
the cause of himself ; for that implies a contradiction. Divines, therefore, 
generally say, that God is ' in and of himself,' not positively, but negatively ; that 
is, his beuig and perfections are underived, they are not communicated to him, as 
all finite perfections are by him communicated to the creature. He is self-existent, 
or independent ; and this is one of the highest glories of his nature, by which he 
is distinguished from creatures, who all live, move, and have their being, in and 
from him. 

This attribute of independence belongs to all his perfections. Thus his wisdom, 
power, goodness, holiness, &c. are all independent. 

1. He is independent as to his knowledge or wisdom. He doth not receive 
jWeas from any object out of himself. All intelligent creatures do this, and, in 
^at respect, are said to depend on the object; so that if there were not any such 

object, they could not have the knowledge or idea of it in their minds. The 
object known must exist, before wo can apprehend what it is. But this must not 
be said respecting God's knowledge ; for the things which he knows cannot be sup- 
posed of as antecedent to his knowing them. The independency of his knowledge 
is elegantly described in scripture : ' Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, 
or being his counsellor, has taught him ? With whom took he counsel, and who 
instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him know- 
ledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?'^ 

2. He is independent in power. As he does not receive strength from any one, 
so he doth not act dependently on the will of the creature. ' Who hath enjoined 
him his way ?'^ Again, as he did not receive the power of acting from any one, so 
none can hinder, turn aside, or control his power, or put a stop to his methods of 

3. He is independent as to his holiness, hating sin necessarily, and not merely 
depending on some reasons out of himself, which induce him to hate it ; for it is 
essential to the divine nature to be infinitely opposite to all sin, and therefore to be 
independently holy. 

4. He is independent as to his bounty and goodness, and so he communicates 
blessings not by constraint, but according to his sovereign will. Thus he gave be- 
ing to the world, and all things therein, which was the first instance, and a very 
great one, of bounty and goodness, not by constraint, but by his free will : ' For his 
pleasure they are and were created.' In like manner, in whatever instances he 
extends mercy to miserable creatures, he acts independently in displaying it. 
Nothing out of himself moves him or lays a constraint upon him ; but he shows 
mercy because it is his pleasure so to do. 

To evince the truth of this doctrine, that God is independent as to his being, and 
all his perfections, let it be considered, 1. That all things depend on his power, 
which brought them into, and preserves them in being. They exist by his will, as 
their creator and preserver, and consequently are not necessary but dependent be- 
ings. Now if all things depend on God, it is the greatest absurdity to say that 
God depends on any thing ; for this would be to suppose the cause and the effect 
to be mutually dependent on, and derived from each other, — which implies a con- 
tradiction. 2. If God bo infinitely above the highest creatures, he cannot depend 
on any of them, for dependence argues inferiority. Now that God is above aU 
things is certain. This is represented in a very beautiful manner by the prophet, 
when he says, ' Behold the nations are as the drop of the bucket, and are counted as 
the small dust of the balance ; all nations before him are as nothing, and they are 
counted to him less than nothing and vanity.'*' He cannot, then, be said to be infe- 
rior to them, and, by consequence, to depend on them. 3. If God depends on any 
creature, he does not exist necessarily, — and if so, he might not have been ; for 
the same will, by which he is supposed to exist, might have determined that he 

a Isa. xl. 13, 14. D Job xxxvi. 23. c Isa. xl. 15, 17. 


should not have existed. And, according to the same method of reasoning, he 
might cease to be ; for the same will that gave being to him might take it away 
at pleasure, — a thought which is altogether inconsistent with the idea of a God. 

From God's being independent, or 'in and of himself,' we infer that the creature 
cannot lay any obligation on him, or do any thing that may tend to make him 
more happy than he is in himself. The apostle gives a challenge to this effect : 
' Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again V^ And 
Eliphaz says to Job, ' Can a man be profitable to God, as he that is wise may be 
profitable unto himself ? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art right- 
eous? or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect?'* Again, if inde- 
pendency be a divine perfection, let it not, in any instance, or by any consequence, 
be attributed to the creature. Let us conclude, that all our springs are in him, 
and that all we enjoy and hope for is from him, who is the author and finisher of 
our faith, and the fountain of all our blessedness. 

The Infinitude of God. 

God is infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection. To be infinite, is to 
be without all bounds or limits, either actual or possible. Now that God is so, is 
evident from his being independent and uncreated, and because his will fixes the 
bounds of all the excellencies, perfections, and powers of the creature. If he doth 
not exist by the will of another, he is infinite in being, and consequently in all per- 
fection. Hence, it is said, ' His understanding is infinite.'^ His infinitude appears 
also in his omniscience. His will likewise detei-mines what shall como to pass, with 
an infinite sovereignty, which cannot be controlled or rendered ineffectual. Ilis 
power, moreover, is infinite ; and therefore all things are equally possible and easy 
to it, nor can it be resisted by any contrary force or power. And he is infinite in 
blessedness, as being, from all eternity, self-sufficient, or not standing in need of 
any thing to make him more happy than he was in himself. The Psalmist is sup- 
posed, by many, to speak in the person of Christ, when he says, ' 'My goodness ex- 
tendeth not to thee ;'^ that is, " How much soever thy relative glory may be illus- 
trated by what I have engaged to perform in the covenant of redemption, yet this 
can make no addition to thine essential glory." And if so, certainly nothing can 
be done by us which may in the least contribute to it. 

The All-suffisciency of God. 

God is all-sufficient ; or he hath enough in himself to satisfy the most enlarged 
desires of his creatures, and to make them completely blessed. As his self-suffi- 
ciency is that whereby he has enough in himself to constitute him completely blessed, 
as a God of infinite perfection ; so his all-sufficiency is that whereby he is able to 
communicate as much blessedness to his creatures, as he is pleased to make them 
capable of receiving. In consequence of his all-sufficiency, he is able not only to 
* supply all their wants, but to do exceedingly above all that they ask or think. '^ 
This he can do in an immediate way. Or if he thinks fit to make use of crea- 
tures as instruments to fulfil his pleasure, and communicate what he designs to im- 
part to us, he is never at a loss ; ibr as they are the work of his hands, so he has 
a right to use them at his will, — and on this account they are all said to be ' his 
servants. ' » 

This doctrine of God's aU-sufficiency should be improved by us to induce us to 
seek happiness in him alone. Creatures are no more than the stream, while he 
is the fountain. We may, in a mediate way, receive some small drops from them ; 
but he is the ocean of all blessedness. 

Let us take heed that we do not depreciate, or, in effect, deny this perfection. 
This we may be said to do in various instances. 1. We do it when we are discon- 
tented with our present condition, and desire more than God has allotted to us. 

d Rom. xi. 35. e Job xxii. 2, 3. f Psal. cxlvii. 5. g Psal. xvi. 2. 

h Phil. IV. 19. and Eph. iii. 20. i Psal. cxix. 91. 


This seems to have been the sin of the fallen angels, who left their first habitation 
through pride, seeking more than God designed they should have ; and it was the 
sin by which our first parents lell. desiring a greater degree of knowledge than what 
they thought themselves possessed of, and fancying that by eating the forbidden 
fruit tliey should be 'as gods, knowing good and evil.'*' 2. AVe practically deny 
the all-sufficiency of God, when we seek blessings, of wliat kind soever th«y are, in 
an indirect way ; as though God liad not been able to bestow them upon us in his 
own way, or in the use of lawful means. This Rebekah and Jacob did, when they 
contrived a lie to obtain the blessing of Isaac ;^ lor they acted as if there had not 
been an all-sufficiency in providence to bring what they desired, without their 
having recourse to mefliods which were sinful. 3. When we use unlawiul means 
to escape imminent dangers. This David did when be feigned himself mad, — sup- 
posing, without ground, that he should have been slain by Achish king of Gath, 
and that there was no way to escape but by the artifice he adopted.™ Abraham and 
Isaac also were guilty of this," when tliey denied their wives, as an expedient to 
save their lives, — as though God had not been able to save them in a better and 
more honourable way. 4. When we distrust his providence, though we have had 
large experience of its appearing for us in various instances. This David did, 
when he said in his heart, ' I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul;'° and the 
Israelites, when they said, 'Can God fuinish a table in the wilderness ?p though 
he had provided for them in an extraordinary way ever since they had been there. 
Yea, Moses himself was faulty in the same way, when he said, ' Whence should I 
have flesh to give unto all this people ? I am not able to bear all this people alone, 
because it is too heavy ior me ; 'i and Asa, when he tempted Benhadad to break his 
league with Baasha, who made war against him, — as though God had not been 
able to deliver him wnthout this indirect practice, and as though he had not in an 
eminent manner appeared for him, in giving him a signal victory over Zerah the 
Ethiopian, when he came against him with an army of a million of men;'' and 
likewise Joshua, when Israel had sufiered a small defeat, occasioned by Achan's 
sin, and fled be. ore the men of Ai, though there were but thirty-six of them slain ; 
for on that occasion he was ready to wish that God had not brought them over 
Jordan, and anticipated nothing but ruin and destruction from the Amorites, for- 
getting God's former deliverances, and distrusting his faithfulness and his care of 
his people, and, as it were, calling in question his all-sufficiency, as though he 
were not able to accomplish the promises he had made to them.^ 5. When we doubt 
of the truth, or the certain accomplishment, of his promises ; and so are ready 
to say, ' Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Doth his truth fail for ever ? ' This 
we are apt to do. when there are great difficulties in the way of the accomplish- 
ment of them. Thus Sarah, when it was told her that .she should have a child 
in her old age, laughed through unbelief;* and God intimates, that her con- 
duct was an affront to his all-sufficiency, for he says, ' Is any thing too hard for 
the Lord?" Gideon, in the same way, though he was told that God was with 
him, and though he had an express command to go in his might, with a promise 
that he should deliver Israel from the Midianites, yet says, ' Lord, wherewith 
shall I save them? for my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my 
father's house. '^ He was told again by God, 'I will be with thee, and smite the 
Midianites; 'y yet, alterwards, he desires that he would give him a sign in the wet 
and dry fleece. What was this but questioning his all-sufficiency ? G. When under 
pretence of our unfitness for them, we decline great services, though called to them 
by God. Thus when the prophet Jeremiah was called to deliver the Lord's mes- 
sage to the rebellious house of Israel, he desired to be excused, and said, 'Behold 
I cannot speak, for I am a child ; ' whereas the main discouragement was the diffi- 
culty of the work, and the hazards he would probably run. But God encourages 
him to it, by putting him in mind of his all-sufficiency, when he tells him, that ' he 
would be with him, and deliver him.'* 

k Gen. iii. 5. 1 Chap, xxvii. m I Sam. xxi. 13. n Gen. chapters xx. and xxvi. 

o 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. p Psal. Ixxviii. 19. q Numb. xi. 13, 14. r 2 Chron. xvi. 3. com- 

pared with chap, xiv. 9, 12. s Josh. vii. 7, 8, 9. t Gen. xviii, 12. u Ver. 14. 

X Judges vi. 15. y Ver. 16. z Jer, i. 6. compared with ver. 8. 


The all-sufficiency of God affords matter of support and encouragement to be- 
lievers, under the greatest straits and difficulties they are exposed to in this world. 
We have many instances in scripture of believers having had recourse to it in such 
circumstances. Thus, when David was in the greatest strait that ever he met with 
■ — when upon the Amalekites spoiling Ziklag, and carrying away the women cap- 
tives, the people talked of stoning him, and all things seemed to make against him, 
' he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.'* Mordecai, in the- same way, was 
confident that 'the enlargement and deliverance' of the Jews should be accom- 
plished by some other means,' if not by Esther's intercession for them, when she 
was afraid to go in to the king ; ^ and, considering the present posture of their 
aiiairs, he could never have this confidence without a due regard to God's all-suffi- 
ciency. Moreover, it was this divine perfection which encouraged Abraham to obey 
the difficult command to offer up his son ; as the apostle observes, he did this as 
knowing 'that God was able to raise him from the dead.''' And when believers 
are under the greatest distress from the assaults of their spiritual enemies, they 
have a warrant from God, as the apostle had, to encourage themselves that they 
shall come off victorious, because ' his grace is sufficient for them. ' ^ 

The Eternity of God. 

God is eternal. He was without beginning, and shall be without end. His du- 
ration is unchangeable, or without succession, the same from everlasting to ever- 
lasting. Hence the Psalmist says, ' Before the mountains were brought forth, or 
ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world ; even from everlasting to everlast- 
ing thou art God.'® 

1. God is from everlasting. This appears, from his being a necessary, self-exist- 
tent Being, or from his existing in and of himself ; for whatever is not produced 
is from eternity. That he did not derive his being from any one, is evident from 
his having given being to all things, which is implied in their being creatures. 
Nothing gave being to him ; and consequently he was fi'om eternity. 

Again, if he is an infinitely perfect being, as has been observed before, then his 
duration is infinitely perfect ; and consequently it is boundless, that is to say, 
eternal. It is an imperfection, in all created beings, that they began to exist ; 
and hence they are said, in a comparative sense, to be but of yesterday. We must, 
therefore, when we conceive of God, separate this imperfection from him, and so 
conclude that he was from all eternity. 

Farther, if he created all things in the beginning, then he was before the be- 
ginning of time, that is, from eternity. It is said, ' In the beginning God created 
the heaven and the earth.'* Time is a successive duration, taking its rise from a 
certain point, or moment, which we call the beginning. Now that duration, which 
was before this, must be from eternity ; unless we suppose that there was time 
before time began, or that there was a successive duration before successive dura- 
tion began, — which is a contradiction. Hence, if God, as their Creator, fixed a 
beginning to all things, and particularly to time, which is the measure of the 
duration of all created beings, then it is evident that he was before time, and con- 
sequently from eternity. 

That God is from everlasting appears also from scripture ; as when it is said, 
' The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms ;'s and 
when we read of his ' eternal power and Godhead;''^ and elsewhere, ' Art not tlmu 
from everlasting, Lord my God?' ' Thy throne is established of old ; thou art 
fiom everlasting.''*^ His attributes and perfections also are said to have been from 
everlasting: ' The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. '^ 

That God is from everlasting, may be proved, further, from many scripture- 
consequences. Thus, there was an election of persons to holiness and happiness, 
' before the foundation of the world.'™ Christ, in particular, ' was fore-ordained' to 

a 1 Sam. xxx. 6. b Esth. iv. 14. c Heb. xi. 19. d 2 Cor. xii. 8. 9. 

e Psal. xc. 2. f Gen. i. I. g Deut. xxxiii. 27. b Rom. i. 20. 

i Hab. i. 12. k Psal. xciii. 2. 1 Psal. ciii. 17. m Eph. i. 4. 


be our mediator ' before the foundation of the world ;'" and was ' set up from ever- 
lasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.'P It follows, that there was a sov- 
ereign fore-ordaining will ; and therefore God, whose will it was, existed before the 
foundation of the world, that is, from everlasting. Moreover, there were grants of 
grace given in Christ, or put into his hand, from all eternity. Thus we read of 
'eternal life, which God promised before the world began ;'i and of our being 
' saved, according to his purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus, before the 
world began. '*■ From this it follows, that there was an eternal giver, and conse- 
quently that God was from everlasting. 

2. God shall be to everlasting. Accordingly it is said, ' The Lord shall endure 
for ever ;'^ 'he liveth for ever and ever ;'' ' his years shall have no end ;'" and 
' the Lord shall reign for ever ;'^ therefore he must endure to everlasting. Again, 
it is said, ' the Lord keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him, to a 
thousand generations ;'y and ' he will ever be mindful of his covenant,'^ that is, 
will fulfil what he has promised therein. Now, if his truth shall not fail for 
ever, then he who will accomplish what he has spoken, must endure to everlasting. 

But that he shall endure for ever may be farther evinced from the perfections 
of his nature. His necessary existence not only argues, as has been before ob- 
served, that he could not begin to be, but equally proves that he cannot cease to 
be, or that he shall be to everlasting. — Again, He is void of all composition, and 
therefore must be to everlasting. None but compounded beings, namely, such as 
have parts, are subject to dissolution ; which arises from the contrariety of the parts, 
and their tendency to destroy one another, — a contrariety and tendency which oc- 
casion their dissolution. But God having no parts, as he is the most simple uncom- 
pounded being, there can be nothing in him that tends to dissolution ; so that he can 
never have an end from any necessity of nature. [See note 2 A, page 124.] — Fur- 
ther, He must be to eternity, because there is no one superior to him, at whose 
will he exists, who can deprive him of his being and glory. — Lastly, He cannot will 
his own destruction, or non-existence ; for to do so would be contrary to the universal 
nature of things. No being can desire to be less perfect than it is ; much less can 
any one will or desire his own annihilation. No one, especially, who is possessed of 
blessedness, can will the loss of it, for to do so is incongruous with the nature of it as a 
desirable good. God, therefore, cannot will the loss of his own blessedness ; and since 
his blessedness is inseparably connected with his being, he cannot cease to be, from 
an act of his own will. Now, if he cannot cease to be, from any necessity of nature, 
or from the will of another, or from an act of his own will, he must be to eternity. 

The eternity of God, as to both the past and the future, may still further be proved 
from his other perfections ; since one of the divine perfections infers the other. — First, it 
may be proved from his immutability. He is unchangeable in his being ; he is, in con- 
sequence, unchangeable also in all his perfections ; and therefore, he must be always 
the same from everlasting to everlasting, and not proceed from a state of non-exist- 
ence to that of being, which he would have done, had he not been from everlast- 
ing, nor decline from a state of being to that of non-existence, which he would be 
supposed to do, were he not to everlasting. Either of these is the greatest change 
that can be supposed, and therefore inconsistent with the divine immutability. — 
Again, He is the first cause, and the ultimate end of all things. He must, there- 
fore, be from eternity, and remain the fountain of all blessedness to eternity. — 
Further, He could not be almighty, or infinite in power, if he were not eternal. 
That being which did not always exist, once could not act, that is, when it did 
ri^t exist ; and he that may cease to be, may, for the same reason, be disabled from 
acting. Both of these consequences are inconsistent with almighty power. — 
Lastly, If he were not eternal, he could not, by way of eminence, be called, as he 
is, 'the living God,'* or said 'to have life in himself;'^ for both these expressions 
imply his necessary existence, and that argues his eternity. 

3. God's eternal duration is without succession, as weU as without beginning and 

o 1 Pet. i. 20. p Prov. viii. 23. q Tit. i. 2. r 2 Tim. i. 9. s Psal. jx. 7. 

t ReT. ir. 9. 10. u Psal. cii. 27. x Psal. cxlvi. 10. y Deut. vii. 9. z P.sal. cxi. 5. 

■ Jer. X. 10. b John v. 26. 


end. That it is so, appears from his being unchangeable. All successive duration 
infers change. Thus, the duration of creatures, wliich is successive, is not the same 
one moment as it will be the next ; every moment adds something to it. But this 
cannot be said of God's duration. Besides, successive duration implies a being 
what we were not in all respects before, and a ceasing to be what we were ; and so 
it is a kind of continual passing from not being to being, — which is inconsistent 
with God's perfections, and. in particular, with his unchangeable duration. The 
Psalmist, speaking of God's eternal duration, describes it by its immutability : ' Thou 
art the same, and thy years shall have no end ;'*= and the apostle, speaking concern- 
ing it, says, ' He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.'*^ Moreover, successive 
duration is applicable to time. The duration of all creatures is measured, and 
therefore cannot be termed infinite. It is measured by its successive parts : thus a 
day, a year, an age, a million of ages, are measured by the number of moments of 
which they consist. But God's duration is unmeasured, that is, infinite ; it is, 
therefore, without succession, or without those parts of which time consists. 

4. Eternity is an attribute peculiar to God ; and hence we call it an incommuni- 
cable perfection. There are, indeed, other things that shall endure to everlasting, 
— as angels, and the souls of men, — also those heavenly bodies that shall remain 
after the creature is delivered from the bondage of corruption, to which it is now 
subject, — and likewise the heavenly places, designed for the seat of the blessed ; 
but the everlasting duration of these things infinitely differs from the eternity of 
God. As all finite things began to be, and their duration is successive, so their 
everlasting existence depends entirely on the power and will of God, and therefore 
cannot be called necessary or independent, as his eternal existence is. 

It may, perhaps, seem inconsistent with the account that has been given of his 
eternity, that the various parts of time, as days, years, &c. and the various 
changes of time, as past, present, and to come, are sometimes attributed to God. 
Such expressions, it is true, are often used in scripture. Thus he is called, * the 
Ancient of days ;'® and his eternity is expressed, by ' his years having no end ;'^ 
and it is said, ' He was, is, and is to come.'^ But, for the understanding of such 
expressions, we must consider that in using them God is pleased to speak according 
to our weak capacity, who cannot comprehend the manner of his infinite duration. 
We cannot conceive of any duration but that which is successive ; therefore God 
speaks to us, as he does in many other instances, in condescension to our capacities. 
But yet we may observe, that though he thus condescends to speak concerning 
himself, there is often something added which distinguishes his duration from that 
of creatures ; as when it is said, ' Behold, God is great, and we know him not ; 
neither can the number of his years be searched out.''' Hence, though we read of 
the years of his duration, yet they are such as are unsearchable, or incomprehen- 
sible, infinitely difl^ering from years as applied to created beings. Thus it is said, 
' A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is past.'' ' One day 
is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'"^ And, by 
the same method of reasoning, it may be said one moment is with the Lord as a 
thousand millions of ages, or a thousand millions of ages as one moment. Such 
is his duration ; and therefore it is not propeidy successive, like that of creatures. 
Again, when any thing past, present, or to come, is attributed to God, it signifies 
either that he is so as to his works, which are finite, and measured by successive 
duration ; or that he whose duration is not measured by succession, notwithstand- 
ing, exists unchangeably, through all the various ages of time. As he is omni- 
present with all the parts of matter, yet has no parts himself ; so he exists in all 
the successive ages of time, but without that succession which is peculiar to time 
and creatures. 

Several things may be inferred, of a practical nature, from the eternity of God. 
Since his duration is eternal, that is, without succession, so that there is no such 
thing as past or to come with him, — since ten thousand millions of ages are but like 
a moment to him, — it follows that those sins which we committed long ago, 

c Psal. cii. 27. d Heh. xiii. 8. e Dan. vii. 9. f Psal. cii. 27. g Rev. i. 4. 

and cbap. iv. 8. h Job xxxvi ''6. i Psal xc. 4. k 2 Pet. iii. 8. 


and wlii«;h perhaps are forgotten by us, are present to his view. He knows what 
we have done against him ever since we had a being in this world, as much as 
though we were at present committing them. — Again, if God was from eternity, 
how contemptible is all createil glory when compared with his ! Look but a few 
ages backward, and it was ndlhing. This consideration should humble the pride 
of the creature, who is but of yesterday, and whose duration is nothing, and less 
than nothing, when compared with God's. — Further, the eternity of God, as being 
to everlasting, affords matter of terror to his en,emies, and of comfort to his people, 
and, as such, should be improved for the preventing of sin. It affords matter of 
terror to his enemies. For he ever lives to see his threatenings executed, and to 
pour forth the vials of his fury on them. Accordingly, the prophet speaking of 
God as 'the everlasting King,' says, that ' at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and 
the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.'' The eternity of God argues 
the eternity of the punishment of sin ; since this great Judge, who is a consuming 
fire to impenitent sinners, will live for ever to see his threatenings executed upon 
them ; and as he is eternal in his being, he must be so in his power, holiness, jus- 
lice, and all his other pericctions, which are terrible to his enemies. Hence the 
Psalmist says, * Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear, 
so is thy wrath ; ' " and the apostle says, ' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands 
of the living God.'° But the doctrine of God's eternity affords, on the other hand, 
matter of comfort to believers. It is a refuge to them from the fluctuating and 
uncertain enjoyments which are connected with the creature ; and it is an encourage- 
ment under the loss of friends and relations, and under all the other losses and dis- 
appointments which they meet with, as to their outward state in this world. These 
are, at best, but short-lived comforts; but God is 'the eternal portion' and 
happiness of his people.'* And from his eternity, they may certainly conclude, that 
the happiness of the heavenly state will be eternal; for it consists in the enjoy- 
ment of him, who is so, — a thought which is very delightful to all who are enabled 
by faith to cherish it. 

The Immutability of God. 

God is immutable. 'With him is no variableness neither shadow of turning.'? 
His immutability is sometimes set forth in a metaphorical way ; in which respect 
he is compared to a ' rock.'i As this remains immoveable, when the whole ocean 
that surrounds it is continually in a fluctuating state ; so, though all creatures are 
subject to change, God alone is un(;hangeable in his being, and in all his perfections. 

I. We shall consider how immutability is a perfection, and how it is a perfection 
peculiar to God. 

It must be allowed that immutability cannot be said to be an excellency or per- 
fection, unless it be applied to, or spoken of, what is good. An immutable state of 
sin or of misery, as found in fallen angels or wicked men, is far from being an ex- 
cellency. But unchangeable holiness and happiness, as found in holy angels, or 
saints in heaven, is a perfection confei'red upon them. And when we speak of 
God's immutability, we suppose him infinitely blessed, — which is included in the 
notion of a God ; and so we farther say, that he is unchangeable in all those per- 
fections in which it consists. 

Immutability belongs, in the most proper sense, to God alone ; so that ' as he 
only ' is said ' to have immortality, ' ^ that is, such as is underived and independent, 
— he alone is unchangeable. Other things are rendered immutable by an act of 
his will and power ; but immutability is an essential perfection of the divine nature. 
Creatures are dependently immutable ; God is independently so. 

The most perfect creatures, such as angels and glorified saints, are capable of 
new additions to their blessedness. New objects may be presented as occasions of 
praise, which tend perpetually to increase their happiness. The angels know more 
than they did before Christ's incarnation ; for they are said to know ' by the church,' 

1 Jer. X. 10. m Psal. xc. 11. n Heb. x. 31. o Psal. Ixxiii. 26. 

p James i. 17. q Deut. xxxii. 4. r 1 Tim. vi, 16. 


that is, by the dealings of God with his cliurch, 'the manifold wisdom of God,' » 
and to ' desire to look into ' the account tlie gospel gives of the ' sufferings of Christ, 
and the glory that should follow ; '* and they shall have farther additions to their 
blessedness, when all the elect are joined to their assembly in the great day. Hence 
the happiness of tlie best creatures is communicated in various degrees. God's 
perfections and blessedness, on the contrary, can have no additions made to them. 
He, therefore, is immutable in a sense in which no creature is. 

II. We shall now prove that God is immutable in his being, and in all his 

1. He is immutable in his being. Immutability in this belongs to him as God, 
and consequently to him alone. All other beings once were^ not ; there has been 
in them, if I may so express it, a change from a state of non-existence to that of 
being ; and the same power that brought them into being, could reduce them 
again to nothing. To be dependent, is to be subject to change at the will of 
another, and belongs to all finite things. Hence it is said, ' As a vesture thou 
shalt change them, and they shall be changed ; ' while God, being opposed to them 
as independent, is said to be 'the same.'" 

God did not change from a state of non-existence to being ; inasmuch as he 
was from everlasting, and therefore necessarily existent. He consequently cannot 
change from a state of being to that of non-existence, or cease to be. And because 
bis per-ections, in the same sense as his being is, are essential to him, and underived, 
there can be no change in them. 

Again, he cannot change from a state of greater to a state of less perfection, or 
be subject to the least diminution of his divine perfections. To suppose this pos- 
sible, is to suppose that he may cease to be infinitely perfect, — that is, that he may 
cease to be God. Nor can he change from a state of less perfection to a state of 
greater ; for that is to suppose him not to be infinitely perfect before this change, 
or that there are degrees of infinite perfection. Nor can he pass from that state 
in which he is, to another of equal perfection ; for, as such a change implies an 
equal proportion of loss and gain, so it would argue a plurality of infinite beings ; 
or as he who was God before this change, was distinct from what he arrives to alter 
it, the change would be contrary to the unity of the divine essence. 

Moreover, if there were any change in God, it must arise either from himself, or 
from some other. But it cannot be from himself ; for he exists necessarily, and 
not as the result of his own will, and therefore cannot will any alteration or change 
in himself. To suppose that he could, is contrary also to the nature of infinite bless- 
edness, which cannot desire the least diminution, as it cannot apprehend any ne- 
cessity for it. And then he cannot be changed by any other ; for he that changes 
any other, must be greater than him whom he changes. Nor can he be subject to 
the will of another, who is superior to him ; for there is none equal, much less su- 
perior, to God. There is, therefore, no being that can add to, or take from, his 

2. God is immutable in his knowledge. ' He seeth not as man seeth.' His 
knowledge is independent of the objects known ; so that whatever changes there are 
in them, there is none in him. Things known are considered, either as past, pres- 
ent, or to come, and are not known by us in the same way ; for concerning things 
past, it must be said, that we once knew them, and concerning things to come, 
that we shall know them hereafter. But God, with one view, comprehends all 
things past and future, as though they were present. 

If God's knowledge were not unchangeable, he might be said to have different 
thoughts or apprehensions of things, at one time, from what he has at another ; 
and this would argue a defect of wisdom. A change of sentiments implies igno- 
rance, or weakness of understanding ; for to make advances in knowledge, supposes 
a degree of ignorance, and to decline therein, is to be reduced to a state of igno- 
rance. Now it is certain, that both these are inconsistent with the infinite perfec- 
tion of the divine mind, and cannot be attributed to him who is called, ' The only 
wise God.' * 

8 Eph. iii. 10. t 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. u Psal. cii. 26, 27. x 1 Tim. i. 17 

I. M 


Moreover, a possibility of God's knowledge being changed, would infer a change 
of his will ; since having changed his sentiments, he must be supposed to alter his 
resolutions and purposes. But his will is unchangeable ; and, therefore, his un- 
derstanding or knowledge is so. This leads us to prove, 

3. That God is unchangeable in his will. It is said of him, ' He is in one mind, 
and who can turn him ?' ^ This is agreeable to his infinite perfection. He does not 
purpose to do a thing at one time, and determine not to do it at another. The 
revelation of his will, it is true, may be changed ; and that may be rendered a duty 
at one time, which was not at another. Thus the ordinances of the ceremonial law 
were in force from Moses' time to Christ's ; but after that they were abolished, 
and ceased to be ordinances. There may thus be a change in the things willed, 
or in the external revelation of God's will, and in our duty founded thereon, when 
there is, at the same time, no change in his purpose ; for he determines all changes 
in the external dispensation of his providence and grace, without the least shadow 
of change in his own will. 

This may farther appear, if we consider that if the will of God were not un- 
changeable, he could not be the object of trust. For how could we depend on his 
promises, were it possible for him to change his purpose ? Neither would his 
threatenings be so much regarded, if there were any ground to expect, from the 
mutability of his nature, that he would not execute them. All religion would in 
consequence be banished out of the world. 

Again, Any changeableness in the will of God, would render the condition of the 
best men, in some respects, very uncomfortable. They might be one day the ob- 
ject of his love, and the next of his hatred ; and those blessings which accompany 
salvation might be bestowed at one time, and taken away at another. But such 
things are directly contrary to scripture ; which asserts, that ' the gifts and calling 
of God are without repentance.'^ 

Farther, None of those things which occasion a change in the purposes of men, 
can have any place in God ; and there is, therefore, nothing in him that, in the 
least degree, can lead him to change his will, or determination, with respect to events. 
Men change their purposes, from a natural fickleness and inconstancy, — there being 
mutability in their very nature ; but God, being unchangeable in his nature, must be 
so in his purpose or will. Men often change their purposes, in making but not ful- 
filling their promises ; or, as we say, in being worse than their word, from the vicious- 
ness and depravity of their nature ; but God is infinitely holy, and therefore, in 
this respect, cannot change. Men change their purposes, for want of power to 
bring about what they designed, — a want of power, which has hindered many well- 
concerted projects from taking effect in some, and many threatenings from being 
executed in others ; but God's will cannot be frustrated for want of power to do 
what he designed, inasmuch as he is almighty. Men often change their purposes 
for want of foresight — something unexpected occurs, which argues a defect of wis- 
dom, and renders it expedient for them to alter their purpose ; but with God, who 
is infinitely wise, nothing unforeseen can intervene to induce him to change his 
purpose. Men, in fine, are sometimes obliged to change their purposes by the in- 
fluence, threatenings, or other methods, used by some superior ; but there is none 
equal, much less superior, to God, and consequently none who can lay any obliga- 
tion on him to change his purpose. 

The Incomprehensibility of God, 

God is incomprehensible. This implies that his perfections cannot be fully known 
by any creature. Thus it is said, ' Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst 
thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ? ' * 

When we consider God as incomprehensible, we not only mean that man, in this 
imperfect state, cannot fully comprehend his glory, — for we can comprehend but 
very little, comparatively, of finite things, and much less of that which is infinite ; 
but we mean, that the best of creatures, in the most perfect state, cannot full/ 

y Job xxiii. IS. z Bom. xi. 29. a Job xi. 7. 


conceive of or describe his glory. The reason is, that they are finite, while his per- 
fections are infinite ; and there is no proportion between an infinite God and a 
finite mind. As easily might the water of the ocean be contained in the hollow 
of the hand, or the dust of the earth weighed in a balance, as the best of creatures 
could have a perfect and adequate idea of the divine perfections. 

On this subject we generally distinguish between apprehending and comprehending. 
The former denotes our having some imperfect or inadequate ideas of what surpasses 
our understanding ; the latter, our knowing every thing that is contained in it, or our 
having an adequate idea of it. Now we apprehend something of the divine perfections, 
in proportion to the limits of our capacities, and our present state ; but we are 
not, and never shall be, able to comprehend the divine glory, — God being incom- 
prehensible to every one but himself. — Again, we farther distinguish between our 
having a full conviction that God hath those infinite perfections, which no creature 
can comprehend, and our being able fully to describe them. Thus we firmly be- 
lieve that God exists throughout all the changes of time, and yet that his duration 
is not measured thereby ; or that he fills all places, and yet is not co-extended with 
matter. We apprehend, as having undeniable demonstration of it, that he does 
so ; though we cannot comprehend how he does it. 

The Omnipresence of God. 

God is omnipresent. This is elegantly set forth by the Psalmist, ' Whither 
shall I go from thy Spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy presence ? If I ascend 
into heaven, thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there ; if 
I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even 
there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.'^ The omnipre- 
sence of God doth not consist merely, as some suppose, in his knowing what is done 
in heaven and earth. This is only a metaphorical sense of omnipresence ; as when 
Elisha tells Gehazi, ' Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned again 
from his chariot to meet thee ?' *= or as the apostle says to the church at Corinth, 
that ' though he was absent in body, yet he was present with them in spirit •,'^ or 
as we say, that our souls are with our Iriends in distant places, as often as we 
think of them. Nor doth this perfection consist in God's being omnipresent by 
his authority, as a king is said, by a figurative way of speaking, to be present in 
all parts of his dominions, where persons are deputed to act under him, or by his 
authority. We must take omnipresence in a proper sense ; and understand by it 
that God fills all places with his presence,® and is not confined to or excluded from 
any place. He is thus omnipresent, not by parts, as the world or the universe is 
said to be omnipresent ; for such an omnipresence is agreeable only to things cor- 
poreal, and compounded of parts, and is by no means attributable to deity. [See 
note 2 B, page 124.] 

This is a doctrine which it is impossible for us to comprehend ; yet we are 
bound to believe it, because the contrary to it is inconsistent with infinite perfec- 
tion. It is sometimes called his essential presence, to distinguish it from his influ- 
ential presence. By the latter, he is said to be where he acts in the methods of 
his providence ; and it is either common or special. By his common influential 
presence, he upholds and governs all things ; and by his special he exerts his power 
in a way of grace. As his omnipresence, or immensity, is necessary, and not the 
result of his wiU, so his influential presence is arbitrary, and an instance of infinite 
condescension. In respect to it he is said to be, or not to be, in particular places, — • 
to come to, or depart from, his people ; sometimes, to dwell in heaven, as lie dis- 
plays his glory there agreeably to the heavenly state ; at other times, to dwell with 
his church on earth, when he communicates to them those blessings which they 
stand in need of. 

b Psal. cxxxix. 7—10. c 2 Kings, v 26. d 1 Cor. v. 3. e Jer. xxiil 24 


Tha Omnipotence of God. 

God is almighty/ If he is infinite in all his other perfections, he must be so in 
power. Thus, if he be omniscient, he knows what is possible or expedient to be 
done ; and if he be an infinite sovereign, he wills whatever shall come to pass. Now 
his knowledge would be insignificant, and liis will inefficacious, were he not infinite 
in power, or almighty. Again, his omnipotence might be argued from his justice, 
either in rewarding or in punishing ; for if he were not infinite in power, he could 
do neither of these, at least so lar as to render him the object of that desire, or 
fear, which is agreeable to the nature of these perfections. Neither without omni- 
potence, could infinite faithfulness accomplish all the promises which he hath 
made, so as to excite that trust and dependence, which is a part of religious wor- 
ship ; nor could he say, without limitation, as he does, ' I have spoken it, I will 
also bring it to pass ; I have purposed it, I will also do it.'s 

But since power is visible in and demonstrated by its ettects, and infinite power 
by those eftects which cannot be produced by a creature, we may observe the 
almighty power of God in all his works, both of nature and of grace. His ' eternal 
power is understood,' as the apostle says, 'by the things that are made,'^ — not that 
there was an eternal production of things, but that the exerting of creative power in 
time proves it to be infinite and truly divine ; for no creature can produce the 
smallest particle of matter out of nothing, much less furnish the various species of 
creatures with those endowments in which they excel one another, and set forth 
their Creator's glory. And the glory of his power is no less visible in the works 
of providence, whereby he upholds all things, disposes of them according to his 
pleasure, and brings about events which only he who has an almighty arm can 
effect. These things might have been enlarged on, as evident proofs of this divine 
perfection. But since the works of creation and providence will be particularly 
considered in their proper place,' we shall proceed to consider the power of God, 
as appearing in his works of grace. 

1. The power of God appears in some things subservient to our redemption ; as 
in the formation of the human nature of Christ, which is ascribed to ' the power of 
the higliest,'*^ — and in preserving it from being crushed, overcome, and trampled 
on, by the united powers of hell and earth. ' The arm of God,' it is said, ' strength- 
ened him,' so that ' the enemy should not exact upon him, nor the spn of wicked- 
ness aflHict him.'^ It was the power of God that bore him up under all the terrible 
views he had of sufferings and death, — sufferings whi(;h had many ingredients in 
them that rendered them, beyond expression, tormidable, and would have sunk a 
mere creature, unassisted by divine power, into destruction. It was by the divine 
power, which he calls 'the finger of God,'™ that he cast out devils, and wrought 
many other miracles, to confirm his mission. Accordingly, when he ' rebuked the 
unclean spirit, and healed the child,' it is said, ' they were all amazed at the 
mighty power of God.'" It was by the divine power also which, as thus displayed, 
is called ' the exceeding greatness of the power of God,'" — that ' he was raised from 
the dead ;' and accordingly he was 'declared to be the Son of God, with power,' by 
this extraordinary event.P Moreover, the power of God will be glorified, in the 
highest degree, in his second coming, when, as he says, he will appear ' in the clouds 
of heaven with power and great glory. '^ 

2. The power of God eminently appears in the propagation of the gospel. That 
a doctrine so contrary to the corrupt inclinations of mankind, and which had so 
little to recommend it but what was divine, should be spread throughout the great- 
est part of the known world, by a small number of men, who, in order to this end, 
were spirited to act above themselves, and furnished with extraordinary qualifica- 
tions, such as the gift of tongues and a power to work miracles, is a convincing 
proof that the power by which all this was done is infinite. It was by this power 
that they were inspired with wisdom, by which they not only silenced and con- 

f Rev. i. 8. chap. iv. 8. g Ish. xlvi. II. h Rom. i. 20, i Quest, xv. and xviii. 

k Luke i. 35. I Psal. lx.xxix. 21, 22. m I.uke xi. 20. n Chap. ix. 42, 43. 


Eh. i. 19. p Rom. i. 4. a Mutt. xxiv. 30. 


founded their malicious enemies, but persuaded others to believe what they were 
sent to impart to them. It was by this that they were inflamed with zeal, in pro- 
portion to the greatness of the occasion, and fortified with courage to despise the 
threats, and patiently to bear the persecuting rage, of those who pursued them 
unto bonds and death. It was by this that they were enabled to finish their course 
with joy, and seal the doctrines they delivered with their blood. And the power 
of God was the more remarkably displayed, that they were not men of the greatest 
natural sagacity or resolution ; and they always confessed, that whatever there 
was extraordinary in the course of their ministry, was from the hand of God. 

3. The power of God appears in the success of the gospel ; the report of which 
would never have been believed, had not 'the arm of the Lord been revealed.'** 
An eminent instance of this occurs in the greatness of the multitude which were 
converted to Christianity in one age. The profession which these made was con- 
trary to their secular interests, and exposed them to the same persecution, though 
in a less degree, which the apostles themselves met with ; yet they willingly parted 
with their worldly substance, when the necessity of aftairs required it, and were 
content to have all things common, that the work might proceed with more success. 
It was the power of God that touched their hearts ; and its internal influence con- 
tributed more to the work of grace, than all the rhetoric of man could have done. 
It was this that carried them through all the opposition of cruel m.ockings, bonds, 
and imprisonment, and, at the same time, compensated all their losses and sufter- 
ings, by those extraordinary joys and supports which they had, both in life and 
death. Moreover, the daily success of the gospel, in all the instances of converting 
grace, is an evident eff"ect and proof of the divine power. This will farther appear 
when, under a lollowing head, we consider efl'ectual calling, as the work of God's 
almighty power and grace.P 

It Aviil be objected, that there are some things which God cannot do ; and that, 
therefore, he is not almighty. It is true, there are some things that God cannot 
do ; but the reason is, eitlier that to do them would be contrary to his divine per- 
fections, or that they are not the objects of power. It is not an imperfection in him 
that he cannot do them, but rather a branch of his glory. — First, there are some 
things which he cannot do, not because he has not power to do them, had he pleased, 
but only because he has willed or determined not to do them. If we should say 
that he cannot make more worlds, we do not mean that he wants infinite power, 
but we merely suppose that he has determined not to make them. He cannot save 
the reprobate, or fallen angels, not because he wants power, but because he has 
willed not to save them. In this, the power of God is distinguished from that of 
the creature. We never saj that a person cannot do a thing, merely because he 
will not, but because he wants power, if he would. But this is by no m.eans to be 
said, in any instance of God. We must distinguish therefore between his absolute 
and his ordinate power. By the former he could do many things, which by the 
latter he will not ; and consequently to say he cannot do those things which he has 
determined not to do, does not in the least impugn the attribute of almighty power. 
[See Note 2 C, page 124.] — Again, God cannot do that which is contrary to the 
nature of things, when there is, in the things themselves, an impossibility that they 
should be done. Thus he cannot make a creature to be independent ; for independ- 
ence is contrary to the idea of a creature. Nor can he make a creature equal to him- 
self ; for then it would not be a creature. It is also impossible that he should m.ake 
a creature to be, and not to be, at the same time, or render that not done, which is 
done ; for that is contrary to the nature and truth of things. We may add, that 
he cannot make a creature the object of religious worship, or, by his power, advance 
him to such a dignity as shall warrant any one's ascribing divine pertecticns to him. 
— Farther, He cannot deny himself. * It is impossible for God to lie ;'*i and it is 
equally impossible for him to act contrary to any of his perfections. For this reason, 
he cannot do any thing which argues weakness, — for instance, he cannot repent, or 
change his mind, or eternal purpose. Nor can he do any thing which would argue 
him not to be a holy God — Now that God can do none of these things, is no delect 

o Isa. liii. 1. p Quest. Ixvii. <j Heb. vi. 18. 


in him, but rather a glory ; since they are not the objects of power, but would 
argue weakness and imperfection in him, should he do them. 

We shall now consider what practical improvement we ought to make of this 
divine attribute. 

The almighty power of God affords great support and relief to believers, when 
they are assaulted, and afraid of being overcome, by their spiritual enemies. Hence 
when they 'wrestle,' as the apostle says, 'not only against flesh and blood, but 
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this 
world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places ;'^ and when they consider 
what numbers have been overcome and ruined by them, and are discouraged very 
much, under a sense of their own weakness, or of their inability to maintain their 
ground against them ; let them consider that God is able to bruise Satan under 
their feet, and to make them more than conquerors, and to cause all grace to 
abound in them, and to work in them that which is pleasing in his sight. 

The consideration of God's almighty power, also gives us the greatest ground 
to conclude, that whatever difficulties seem to lie in the way of the accomplish- 
ment of his promises, relating to our future blessedness, shall be removed or sur- 
mounted. Things, which seem impossible, if we look no farther than second 
causes, or the little appearance there is, at present, of their being brought about, 
are not only of possible but of very easy accomplishment by the power of God. 
With respect to those who are sinking into despair, under a sense of the guilt or 
power of sin, and who are ready to conclude that their burden is too great to be 
removed by any finite power, let them consider that to God all things are possible. 
He can, by his powerful word, raise the most dejected spirits, and turn the sha- 
dow of death into a bright morning of peace and joy. Moreover, if we consider 
the declining state of religion in the world, the apostacy of some professoi s, the 
degeneracy of others, and what reason the best of them have to say, that it is not 
with them as in times past ; or if we consider what little hope there is, from the 
present view of things, that the work of God will be revirea in his church ; yea, 
if the state of it were, in all appearance, as hopeless as it was when God, in a vi- 
sion, represented it to the prophet Ezekiel, showing him the valley full of dry bones, 
and asking him, ' Can these bones live ?' ' or if the question be put. Can the de- 
spised, declining, sinking, and dying interest of Christ be revived ? or how can those 
prophecies which relate to the church's future happiness and glory ever have their 
accomplishment in this world, when all things seem to make against it? every 
difficulty will be removed, and our hope encouraged, when we contemplate the 
power of God, to which nothing is difficult, much less insuperable. 

A consideration of the power of God will remove likewise all the difficulties that 
lie in our way, with respect to the resurrection of the dead. This is a doctrine 
which seems contrary to the course of nature ; and, if we look no farther than the 
power of the creature, we shall be inclined to say, How can this be ? But when 
we consider the almighty power of God, all objections which can be brought against 
it will be sufficiently removed. Accordingly, when our Saviour proves this doc- 
trine, he exposes the absurd notions which some entertained respecting it, by say- 
ing, ' Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.'" 

Let us have a due regard to this attribute, and take encouragement from it, 
when we are engaging in holy duties, and are sensible of our inability to perform 
them in a right manner. When we have too mucli reason to complain of an un- 
becoming frame of spirit, of the hardness and impenitency of our hearts, the obsti- 
nacy and perverseness of our wills, the earthliness and carnality of our affections. 
and when all the endeavours we can use to bring ourselves into a better frame 
have not their desired success ; let us encourage ourselves with this consideration, 
that God can make us 'willing in the day of his power,''' and ' do exceeding abun- 
dantly above all that we ask or think. 'y 

But let us take heed that we do not abuse, or practically deny, or cast contempt 
on, this divine perfection, by presuming that we can obtain spiritual blessings, 
without dependence on God for them, or by expecting divine influences, while we 

8 Eph. vi. 12. t Ezek. xxxvii. 3. u Matt. xxii. 29. x Psul. ex. 3. y Eph. iii. -0. 


continue in the neglect of his instituted means of grace. God, it is true, can work 
vvithout means ; but he has not given us ground to expect that he will do so. When, 
therefore, we seek help from him, it must be in his own way. Again, let us take 
heed that we do not abuse this divine perfection, by a distrust of God, or by de- 
pendence on an arm of flesh. Let us not, on the one hand, limit the Holy One of 
Israel, by saying. Can God do this or that for me, with respect either to spiritual 
or to temporal concerns ? nor, on the other hand, rest in any thing short of him, 
as though omnipotence were not an attribute peculiar to himself. As he is able 
to do great things for us that we looked not for ; so he is much displeased when 
we expect blessings from any one short of himself. ' Who art thou, that thou 
shouldest be afraid of a man, that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, 
that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth ?'^ 

The Omniscience of God. 

God knows all things. It has been before considered, that his being a Spirit 
implies his having an understanding, as a Spirit is an intelligent being. His being 
an infinite Spirit, therefore, must argue that ' his understanding is infinite.' ^ — His 
omniscience farther appears from his having given being to all things at first, and 
from his continually upholding them. He must necessarily know his own work- 
manship, the effects of his power. This is especially evident, if we consider the 
creation of all things, as a work of infinite wisdom, which is plainly discernible 
therein, as well as of almighty power. He must know all things ; for wisdom sup- 
poses knowledge. Moreover, his being the proprietor of all things, results from 
his having created them ; and certainly he must know his own. — His omniscience 
appears, again, from his governing all things, or from his so ordering them in sub- 
serviency to valuable ends, that all shall redound to his glory. Both the ends and 
the means must be known by him. The governing of intelligent creatures, in par- 
ticular, supposes knowledge. As the Judge of all, he must be able to discern the 
cause, else he cannot determine it, — and perfectly to know the rules of justice, else 
he cannot exercise it in the government of the world. — Moreover, God's knowing 
all things, appears from his knowing himself ; for he that knows the greatest object, 
must know things of a lesser nature. Besides, if he knows himself, he knows 
what he can do, will do, or has done ; which is as much as to say that he knows aU 
things. And that God knows himself, must be granted ; for if it be the privilege 
of an intelligent creature to know himself, though his knowledge be but imperfect, 
surely God must know himself. And because his knowledge cannot have any de- 
fect — for that would be inconsistent with infinite perfection — he must have a per- 
fect, that is to say, an infinite knowledge of himself, and consequently of all other 

The knowledge of God, as having the creature for its object, is distinguished, in 
scripture, into his comprehending all things, or seeing them or having a perfect 
intuition of them, and his approving of things ; or it is either intuitive or appro- 
bative. The former of these is what we principally understand by the attribute 
of omniscience. This is referred to when it is said, ' Known unto God are all his 
works from the beginning of the world ;''' and ' Thou knowest my down-sitting and 
up-rising, and art acquainted with all my ways ; for there is not a word in my 
tongue, but lo, Lord, thou knowest it altogether ;'« and ' The Lord searcheth all 
hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. ''^ As for the ap- 
probative knowledge of God, it is less properly called knowledge ; because it is 
seated rather in the will than in the understanding. Of this we read in several 
scriptures. Thus God tells Moses, ' I know thee by name,'® — a saying which is 
explained by the following words, 'And thou hast found grace in my sight.' So 
when our Saviour says, concerning his enemies, ' I will pro:ess unto you, I never 
knew you,'f he speaks of a knowledge, not of intuition, but of approbation. In the 
former sense, he knows all things, — bad as well as good, — that which he hates and 

z Isa. li, 12. a Psal, cxlvii. 5. b Acts xv. 18. c Psal. cxxxix. 2, 3, 4. 

d 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. e Exod. xxxiii. 12. f Matth. vii. 23. 


will punish, as well as what he delights in ; in the latter, he knows onlj that which 
is good, or is agreeable to his will. 

God is said to know what he can do, and what he has done, or will do. He knows 
what he can do, even many things that he will not do ; for as his power is unlimit- 
ed, so that he can do inlinitely more than he will, so he knows more than he will 
do. This is very obvious. We ourselves, as free agents, can do more than we 
will ; and, as intelligent, we know in many instances what things we can do, 
though we will never do them. Much more must this be said of the great God ; 
who ' calleth things that be not as though they were.'s Accordingly, when David 
inquires of God, ' Will Saul come down ? and will the men of Kgilah deliver me 
up into his hand ?' God answers him, ' He will come down, and the men of Kei- 
lah will deliver thee up ;'^ which implies, that God knew what they would have done, 
had not his providence prevented it. Thus things known by him are said to be 
possible, by reason of his power ; while the future existence of them depends on his 
will. [See Note 2 D, page 125.] — Again, God knows whatever he has done, does, 
or will do, namely, things past, present, or to come. That he knows all things 
present, has been proved, from the dependence of things on his providence, and 
from his knosvledge being inseparably connected with his power. That he knows 
all things past, is no less evident ; for they were once pi'esent, and consequently 
known by him ; and to suppose that he does not know them, is to charge him with 
forgetfulness, or to suppose that his knowledge at present is less perfect than it 
was, — which is inconsistent with infinite perfection. Moreover, if God did not know 
all things past, he could not be the Judge of the world ; and particularly, he could 
neither reward nor punish, — both which acts respect only things that are past. 
Such things, therefore, are perfectly known by him. When Job considered his 
present aiiiictions as the punishment of past sins, he said, ' My transgression is 
sealed up in a bag; thou sewest up mine iniquity,' — a metaphorical way of speak- 
ing, which implied that God remembered it. So when God threatens to punish his 
adversaries for their iniquity, he speaks of it as remembered by him, ' laid up in 
store' with him, and 'sealed up among his treasures ■,'^ and when, on the other 
hand, he designed to reward or encourage the religious duties performed by his 
people, who feared his name, it is said, ' a book of remembrance was written be- 
fore him, for them.'^ 

But what we shall principally consider, is God's knowing all things future, 
namely, not only such as are the effects of necessary causes, where the effect is 
known in or by the cause, but such as are contingent with respect to us. 
This is the most difficult of all knowledge, and possesses properties which 
argue it to be truly divine. By future contingencies, we understand things 
which are accidental, or which, as we commonly say, happen by chance, with- 
out any forethought or design of men. Now that many things happen so 
with respect to us, and therefore cannot be certainly foreknown by us, is very 
obvious. But even these are foreknown by God. For things that happen without 
our design, or forethought, and therefore are not certainly foreknown by us, are 
the objects of his providence, and therefore known to him from the beginning. Thus 
the fall of a sparrow to the ground is a casual thing ; yet our Saviour says, that 
this is not without his providence.'" Hence, that which is casual or accidental to 
us, is not so to him ; so that though we cannot have a certain or determinate fore- 
knowledge of it, it does not follow that he has not. He has, accordingly, foretold 
many such future events ; as appears by the following instances. Ahab's death 
by an arrow, shot at random, may be reckoned a contingent event ; yet this was 
foretold before lie went into the battle," and accomplished accordingly. That 
Israel should be afflicted and oppressed in Egypt, and afterwards should be delivered, 
was foretold four hundred years before it came to pass." And when Moses was 
sent to deliver them out of the Egyptian bondage. God tells them beforehand, 
how obstinate Pharaoh would be, and with how mu(;h difficulty he would be brought 
to let them go.P Joseph's advancement in Egypt was a contingent and very unlikely 

g Rom. :v. 17. h 1 Sam. xxiii. 12. i Job xiv. 17. k Dent, xxxii. 34, .15. 

1 Mai. iii. 16. m Matt. x. 21). n 1 Kin}:s xxii. 17, 18, 34. o Gen. xv. 13, 14. 

p Exod. iii. 19, 20. 


event ; yet it was made known several years before, by his prophetic dream.i That 
also which tended more immediately to it, was his afterwards foretelling what 
happened to the chief butler and baker, and the seven years of plenty and famine 
in Egypt, signified by Pharaoh's dream, all which were contingent events, and 
were foretold by divine inspiration, and therefore foreknown by God. Again, Ha- 
zael's coming to the crown of Syria, and the cruelty that he would exercise, were 
foretold to him, when he thought he could never be such a monster of a man as he 
afterwards appeared to be/ Also, Judas' betraying our Lord, was foretold to 
him ;^ though at the time he seemed as little disposed to commit so vile a crime 
as any of the disciples. 

Having thus considered God's knowledge, with respect to the object, either as 
past, or as future, we shall now observe some properties of it ; whereby it appears 
to be superior to all finite knowledge, and truly divine. — 1. It is perfect, intimate, 
and distinct, and not superficial, or confused, or general, as ours often is. It is said 
concerning him, that ' he bringeth out his hosts by number, and calleth them all by 
names •,'^ and this denotes his exquisite knowledge of all things, as well as his pro- 
priety in them, and his using them at his pleasure. And since all creatures ' live 
and move,' or act, ' in him,' " or by his powerful influence, it follows that his know- 
ledge is as distinct and particular as the actions themselves. Even the most in- 
difl'erent actions, which are hardly taken notice of by ourselves, such as 'our down- 
sitting and up-rising,' ^ and all transient thoughts, which are no sooner formed in 
our minds than forgotten by us, are known by him ' afar off, ' at the greatest dis- 
tance of time, when they are irrecoverably lost with respect to us. That God knows 
all things thus distinctly, is evident, not only from their dependence upon him, but 
also from their accordance with his divine purpose. Accordingly, when he had 
brought his work of creation to perfection, ' he saw every thing that he had made, 
and behold it was very good ; ' that is, it was agreeable to his eternal design, or, 
if we may so express it, to the idea, or platform, laid in his own mind. And this he 
pronounced concerning every individual thing, — which is as much the object of his 
omniscience as the effect of his power. Now what can be more expressive of the 
perfection and distinctness of his knowledge than this ? The apostle might well say, 
therefore, that ' there is not any creature that is not manifest in his sight ; but all 
things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.'y — 
2. He knows every thing, even future contingencies, witli a certain and infallible 
knowledge, without the least hesitation, or possibility of mistake. And as opinion 
or conjecture is opposed to certainty, it is not in the least attributable to him. In 
this, his knowledge differs from that of the best of creatures ; who can only guess 
at some things that may happen, according to the probable fore-views they have of 
them. — 3. He knows all things directly and not in a discursive way, agreeable to our 
common method of reasoning, by inferring one tiling from another, or by comparing 
things together, and observing their connexion, dependence, and various powers 
and manner of acting, and thereby discerning what will follow. Such a knowledge 
as this is acquired, and presupposes a degree of ignorance. Conclusions can hardly 
be said to be known, till the premises whence they are deduced be duly weighed. 
But to do this is inconsistent with the perfect knowledge of God, who sees all things 
in himself, things possible in his own power, and things future in his will, without 
inferring, abstracting, or deducing conclusions from premises. — 4. He knows all 
things at once, not successively as we do. For if successive duration is an imper- 
fection — as was before observed, when we considered the eternity of God — his 
knowing all things after this manner, is equally so. Indeed, his knowing things 
successively would argue an increase of the divine knowledge, or a making advances 
in wisdom by experience, and by daily observation of things, which, though expe- 
rienced by all intelligent creatures, can by no means be supposed of him whose 
* understanding is infinite.'^ 

We shall now consider what improvement we ought to make of God's omniscience, 
in relation to our conduct in this world. 

q Gen. xxxvii. 5, &c. r 2 Kings viii. 12, 13. g John vi. 70. 71. t Isa. xl. 26. 

u Actsxvii. 28. x Psal. cxxxix. 2. y Heb. iv. 13. z Psal.exlvii.5i, 


1. Let us take heed that we do not practically deny this attribute, Let us not 
act as though we thought that we could hide ourselves from the all-seeing eye of 
God. Let us not say, to use the words of Eliphaz, ' How doth God know? Can 
he judge through the dark cloud? Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he 
seeth not, and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.'* How vain a supposition is 
this ! for 'there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity 
may hide themselves.' ^ Hypocrisy is, as it wei"e, an attempt to hide ourselves from 
God, — an acting as though we thought that we could deceive or impose on him, 
and is called, in scripture, ' a lying to him,'*^ or ' a compassing him about with lies 
and deceit.''^ This all are chargeable with who rest in a form of godliness, as 
though God saw only the outward actions, but not the heart. Lotus likewise not be 
more afraid of man than of God, or venture, without considering his all-seeing eye, 
to commit the vilest abominations, which we would be afraid and ashamed to do 
were we under the eye of man. ' It is a shame,' saith the apostle, 'even to 
speak of those things which are done of them in secret.'® And God, speaking to 
the prophet Ezekiel, says, concerning an apostatizing people of old, ' Son of man, 
hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man 
in the chambers of his imagery ? for they say, The Lord seeth us not ; the Lord 
hath forsaken the earth.'*" 

2. The consideration of God's omniscience should be improved, to humble us 
under a sense of sin, but especially of secret sins, which are all known to him. Thus 
it is said, ' Thou hast set our iniquities before thee ; our secret sins in the light of 
thy countenance ; ' s and, ' His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his 
goings.'^ There are many things which we know concerning ourselves, that no 
creature is privy to, which occasion self-conviction, and might fill us with shame 
and confusion of face. But our own knowledge of them falls infinitely short of 
God's omniscience ; ' for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, 
and knoweth all things.'' This should make sinners tremble at the thoughts of a 
future judgment ; for if sins be not pardoned, he is able to bring them to remem- 
brance, and, as he threatens he will do, ' set them in order before their eyes.'"^ 

3. The due consideration of God's omniscience' will, on the other hand, tend 
very much to the comfort of believers. He seeth their secret wants, the breathings 
of their souls after him ; and, as our Saviour saith, ' Their Father which seeth in 
secret shall reward them openly.'^ With what pleasure may they appeal to God 
as the searcher of hearts, concerning their sincerity, when it is called in question 
by men ! And when they are afraid of contracting guilt and defilement, by secret 
faults, which they earnestly desired, with the Psalmist, to be ' cleansed from,'"* it 
is some relief to them to consider that God knows them, and therefore is able to 
give them repentance for them ; so that they may pray with David, ' Search me, 
O God, and know my heart ; try me, and know my thoughts ; and see if there be 
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' "^ To all, likewise, who 
are affected with a view of the church's troubles, and of the deep-laid designs of its 
enemies against it, it is a consoling thought that God knows these, and therefore 
can easily defeat them, and turn them into foolishness. 

4. The due consideration of God's omniscience will be of great use to aU Chris- 
tians, to promote a right frame of spirit in holy duties. It will make them careful 
how they behave themselves, as being in his sight ; and tend to fill them with a 
holy reverence, as those that are under his immediate inspection, that they may 
approve themselves to him, in whose presence they are. 

The Wisdom of God. 

God is most wise, or is infinite in wisdom ; or, as the apostle expresses it, ' he is 
the only wise God.' ° This perfection, considered as absolute, underived, and truly 
divine, belongs only to him. Even the angels, the most excellent order of created 

a Job xxii. 13, 14. b Chap, xxxiv, 22. c Psal. Ixxviii. 36. d Hos. xi. 12. 

e Eph. V. 12. f Ezek. viii. 12. g Psal. xc. 8. h Job xxxiv, 21 

i 1 John iii. 20. k PshI. 1. 21. 1 Matt. vi. 4. m Psal. xix. 12. 

n Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. o Rom. xvi. 27. 


beings, are said to be destitute of it, or to be ' charged with folly.' p For our under- 
standing what this divine perfection is, let us consider that wisdom contains in it 
more than knowledge ; for there may be a great degree of knowledge where there is 
but little wisdom, though there can be no wisdom without knowledge. Knowledge is, 
as it were, the eye of the soul, whereby it apprehends, or sees, things in a true 
light, and so is opposed to ignorance, or not knowing things ; but wisdom is that 
whereby the soul is directed in the skilful management of things, or in ordering 
them for the best, and it is opposed, not so much to ignorance, or error of judg- 
ment, as to folly or error in conduct. It consists more especially in designing the 
best and most valuable end in what we are about to do, — in using tlie most proper 
means to effect it, — in observing the season most fit and the circumstances most 
expedient and conducive for accomplishing it, — and in foreseeing and guarding 
against every occurrence that may frustrate our design, or give us an occasion to 
blame ourselves for doing what we have done, or to repent of it, or to wish we had 
taken other measures. Now, 

1. The wisdom of God appears in the reference or tendency of all things to his 
own glory. This is the highest and most excellent end that can be proposed ; as 
he is the highest and best of beings, and his glory, to which all things are referred, 
is infinitely excellent. Here let us consider, that God is, by reason of his infinite 
perfection, naturally and necessarily the object of adoration, — that he cannot be 
adored, unless his glory be set forth and demonstrated, or made visible, — that 
there must be an intelligent creature to behold his glory, and adore his per- 
fections, which are thus demonstrated and displayed, — and that every thing which 
he does is fitted and designed to lead this creature into the knowledge of his glory. 
Now that every thing is thus fitted and designed, is an eminent instance of divine 
wisdom, and is a fact so obvious that we need not travel far to know it. Wher- 
ever we look, we may behold how excellent God's name is in all the earth. And 
because some are so stupid that they cannot, or will not, in a way of reasoning, 
infer his divine perfections from things that are without us, he has instamped the 
knowledge of them on the souls and consciences of men ; so that, at times, tliey 
are obliged, whether they will or not, to acknowledge them. There is something 
which 'may be known of God,' which is said to be 'manifest in, and shown to' all; 
so that ' the Gentiles, who have not the law,' that is, the written word of God, 'do 
by nature the things,' that is, some things 'contained therein,' and so are 'a law 
unto themselves,' and ' show the work of the law written in their hearts. 'i [See Note 
2 E, p. 125.] God has led us farther into the knowledge of his divine pei-fections 
by his word ; which he is said to have ' magnified above all his name.''" And hav- 
ing thus adapted his works and word to set forth his glory, he discovers himself to 
be infinite in wisdom. 

2. The wisdom of God appears in his doing whatever he does in the fittest season, 
and in circumstances all of which tend to set forth his own honour, and argue his 
foresight to be infinitely perfect ; so that he can see no reason to wish that any- 
thing had been otherwise ordered, or to repent that it was done. ' For all his ways 
are juctgment.' ^ ' To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose 
under the heaven ;' and ' he hath made every thing beautiful in his time.' * But 
since wisdom is known by its effects, we shall, for farther illustrating the wisdom of 
God, observe some of the traces or ibotsteps of it in his works. We remark, 
therefore, , 

3. That the wisdom of God appears in the work of creation. As it requires in- 
finite power to produce something out of nothing ; so the wisdom of God appears 
in that excellent order, beauty, and harmony, which we observe in all tlie parts of 
the creation, — in the subserviency of one thing to another, — and in the tendency of 
all to promote the moral government of God in the world,, and the good of man. 
In this manner was this lower world fitted up for man, that it might be a conve- 
nient habitation for him, and a glorious object, in which he might contemplate, and 
thereby be led to advance, the divine perfections, which shine forth therein as in 

p Job iv. 18. q Rom. i. 19. chap. ii. 14, 15. r Psal. cxxxviii. 2. 

s Deut. xxxii. 4. t Eccles. iii. 1, 11. 


a glass. We have therefore the highest reason to say, ' Lord, how manifold are 
thy works ; in wisdom hast thou made them all.'" 'He hath made the earth by 
his power ; he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out 
the heavens by his discretion.'^ But as this argument hath been insisted on, with 
great ingenuity and sti'ength of reason by others,^ we shall say no more upon it, 
but proceed to observe, 

4. That the wisdom of God appears in the works of providence. It produces 
unexpected events for the good of mankind, and brings them about by means that 
seem to have no tendency to this end, but rather the contrary. This will aj)ptar 
in the following instances. Jacob's flying from his father's house, was wisely 
ordered, as a means not only of his escaping the fury of his brother, of the trial of 
his faith, and of humbling him for the sinful method he took to obtain the blessing ; 
but also of building up his family, and of increasing his substance in the world, 
under a very unjust father-in-law and master, as Laban was. Joseph's being sold 
into Egypt, was ordered, as a means of his preserving not only that land, but his father's 
house, from perishing by famine. His imprisonment also was the occasion of his 
advancement. And both events led the way to the accomplishment of what God 
had foretold relating to his people's dwelling in Egypt, and their wonderful deliver- 
ance from the bondage they were to endure therein. The wisdom of God was seen, 
likewise, in the manner of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, — in his first laying 
them under the greatest discouragements, by suffering tlie Egyptians to increase 
their tasks and burdens, — in his hardening Pharaoh's heart, that he might try his 
people's faith, and make their deliverance appear more remarkable, — in then 
plaguing the Egyptians, that he might punish their pride, injustice, and cruelty, 
— and finally, in giving them up to such an infatuation, as eft'ectually secured their 
final overthrow, and liis people's safety. His wisdom was seen further, in his lead- 
ing Israel forty years in the wilderness, before he brought them into tlie promised 
land, that he might give them statutes and ordinances, and that they might ex- 
perience various instances of his presence among them, by judgments and mercies, 
and so be prepared for all the privileges he designed for them, as his peculiar peo- 
ple, in the land of Canaan. We have, moreover, a very wonderful instance of the 
wisdom of Providence recorded in the book of Esther. When Haman, the enemy 
of the Jews, had obtained a decree for their destruction, and purposed, as a first 
step, to sacrifice Mordecai to his pride and revenge, providence turned upon him- 
self whatever he intended against him. There was, in all the circumstances that 
led to this, something very remarkable, which brought about the church's deliverance 
and advancement, when to an eye of reason this seemed almost impossible. 

5. The wisdom of God appears yet more eminently in the work of our redemp- 
tion. This work is what ' the angels desire to look into,' and cannot behold with- 
out the greatest admiration; for herein God's 'manifold wisdom' is displayed." 
It solves the difficulty involved in a former dispensation of providence, respecting 
God's suffering sin to enter into the world ; which he could have prevented, and 
probably would have done, had he not designed to overrule the event, for bringing 
about the work of our redemption by Christ, — so that what we lost in our first head 
should be recovered, with great advantage, in our second, the Lord from heaven. 
But though this matter was determined, in the eternal covenant, between the Father 
and the Son, and the necessity of man seemed to require that Christ should become 
incarnate, as soon as man fell ; yet it was delerrtd till n.any ages after. And in 
this delay the wisdom of God eminently appeared. By means of it, he tried tho 
faith and patience of his church, and put them upon waiting for, and depending on, 
him who was to come. So that though they had not received the promised bless- 
ing of his coming, yet ' they saw it afar oft", ' and ' were persuaded of it, and embraced 
it,' and, with Abraliam, 'rejoiced to see his day,' though at a great distance.* 
They thus glorified the faithfulness of God, and depended on his word, that the 
work of redemption should be brought about, as certainly as though it had been 
actually accomplished. Our Saviour, in the mean time, took occasion to displaj 

u Psal. cir. 24. x Jer. x. 12. y See Ray's Wisdom of God in the Works of Creation, 

Rnd Derbam's Physico-Theology. z 1 Pet. i. 12. Epb. ill. 10. a Heb. xi. 13. John viii. 56. 


his own glory, as the Lord and Governor of his church, to whom he often appeared 
in a human form, assumed for that purpose as a prelude of his incarnation. They 
had hence the greatest reason to expect his coming in our nature. Moreover, the 
time of Christ's coming in the flesh was such as appeared most seasonable. The 
state of the church was very low, religion was almost lost among them, and the 
darkness they were under was exceeding great ; so that it seemed very necessary 
that the Messiah should come. When iniquity almost universally prevailed among 
them, then ' the deliverer came out of Sion, and turned away ungodliness from 
Jacob ; ^ and when the darkness of the night was greatest, it was the most proper 
time for ' the Sun of righteousness to arise, with healing in his wings.'*' 

6. The wisdom of God farther appears, in the various methods he has taken in 
the government of his church, before and since the coming of Christ. Till 
Moses' time, as has been before observed, •= God left his church without a written 
word, that he might take occasion, in the exercise of infinite condescension, to con- 
verse with them more immediately, and to show them that, though they had no 
such method of knowing his revealed will as we have, yet he could communicate 
his mind to them another way. And when the necessity of affairs i-equired it, his 
wisdom was seen, in taking this method of oral revelation, to propagate religion in 
the world. — Again, when he designed to govern his church by those rules which 
he hath laid down in scripture, he revealed the great doctrines contained therein, 
in a gradual way. The dispensation of his providence towards them, like the light 
of the morning, was increasing to a perfect day. He first instructed them by 
various types and" shadows, leading them into the knowledge of the gospel, which 
was afterwards to be more clearly revealed. He taught them, as they were able to 
bear instruction, like cliildren growing in knowledge, till they arrive to a perfect 
manhood. He first gave them manifold predictions as a ground to expect the 
blessings which he would bestow in after-ages ; and he afterwards glorified his 
faithfulness in their accomplishment. — He sometimes, also, governed them in a 
more immediate way, and confirmed their faith, as was then necessary, by miracles, 
and raised up prophets, as occasion served, whom he furnished, in an extraordinary 
way, for the service to which he called them, to lead his church into the knowledge 
of those truths on which their faith was built. — To this we may add, that he gave 
them various other helps for their faith, by those common and ordinary means of 
grace, which they were favoured with, and which the gospel church now enjoys, 
and has ground to conclude will be continued until Christ's second coming. — Here 
we might take occasion to consider how the wisdom of God appears, in furnishing 
his church with a gospel ministry, — in adapting the management of it to the neces- 
sities of his people, — in employing those persons about it who are duly quahfied for 
it, - — in assisting them in the discharge of its duties, and in giving success to their 
humble endeavours ; and all this in such a way, that the praise shall redound to 
himself, who builds his house, and bears the glory. But on this topic we may 
have occasion to insist, in a following part of this work,*^ ^ 

7. The wisdom of God appears, in the method he takes to preserve, propagate, 
and build up his church in the world. As his kingdom is not of this world, but is 
of a spiritual nature, he hath ordered that it shall not be promoted by those me- 
thods of violence, or of carnal policy, by which the secular interests of men are often 
advanced. He has no where appointed that wars should be proclaimed to pro- 
pagate the faith, or that persons should be forced to embrace it against their will, 
or be enlisted under Christ's banner by bribery, or by a prospect of worldly advan- 
tage. Hence, all the success, worthy of the name, which the gospel has had, has 
been such as is agreeable to the spirituality of Christ's kingdom. His house is to 
be built, ' not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit.'^ — Again, that the church 
should flourish under persecution, — that those methods which its enemies take to 
ruin it, should be overruled to its greater advantage, — that, in consequence, shame 
and disappointment should attend every weapon which is formed against Sion,— . 

a Rom. xi. 26. b Mai. iv. 2. compared with Matt. iv. 16. c See Quest. III. Sect. 

• How the Scripture is divided or distinguished. d See Vol. II. Quest, clvi. and clviL 

e Zech. iv. 6. 


and that the church should appear more eminently to be the care of God, when it 
meets with the most injurious treatment from men, — are plain proofs of the glory of 
divine wisdom. On the other hand, that its flourishing state as to outward things, 
should not be always attended with such marks or evidences of the divine favour 
as those which more immediately respect salvation, is equally an illustration of the 
divine wisdom ; as God hereby incites his people to set the highest value on those 
things which are most excellent, and not to reckon themselves most happy in the 
enjoyment of the good things of this life, when they are destitute of his special pre- 
sence with them. — Moreover, the preserving of the rising generation, especially 
the seed of believers, from the vile abominations which are in the world, and the 
caUing of many of them by his grace, that there may be a constant reserve of 
them to be added to his church, and to preserve his interest in the world, as others, 
who have served their generation, are called out of it, are further proofs of the 
wisdom of God, as well as of his other perfections. 

. From what has been said concerning the wisdom of God, we may infer that none 
can be said to meditate aright on the works of God, such as creation, providence, 
or redemption, who do not behold and admire his manifold wisdom displayed in 
them, as well as his other perfections. As we conclude that man to be a very un- 
fikilful observer of a curious picture or statue, who takes notice only of its dimen- 
sions in general, or of the matter of which it is composed, without considering the 
symmetry and proportion of its parts, and those other excellencies of it by which 
the artist has signalized his skill ; so it is below a Christian to be able to say only, 
that there are works of God done in the world, or to have a general idea of its be- 
ing governed by providence, without having his thoughts suitably affected with the 
harmonious subserviency of things, and the design of all to set forth the glory of 
Him who is a God of infinite wisdom. 

If we cannot understand the meaning of some particular dispensations of provi- 
dence, so as to admire the wisdom of God in them, let us compare all the parts of 
providence together ; and one will illustrate and add a beauty to another, — as our 
Saviour says to Peter, ' What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know 
hereafter.'* Let us, in particular, compare the various dark dispensations, which 
the church of God is under at one time, with the glory that shall be put upon it 
at another. 

From the displays of the wisdom of God in all his works, let us learn humility, 
under a sense of our own folly. The psalmist, when he had been meditating on 
the glory of some other parts of God's creation, which he calls, ' The work of his 
fingers, 's that is, creatures in which his wisdom is displayed in a very eminent de- 
gree, takes occasion to express his low thoughts of mankind in general, and says, 
' What is man, that thou art mindful of him ?' But, besides this, we may take 
occasion to have a humble sense of our own folly, that is, of our defect of wisdom ; 
for it is but a little of God that is known by us, and the wonderful effects of divine 
wisdom are known but in part by us, who dwell in houses of clay. 

Let us subject our understandings to God, and have a high veneration for his 
word, in which his wisdom is displayed, and which he has ordained as the means 
whereby we may be made wise unto salvation. And whatever incomprehensible 
mysteries we find contained in it, let us not reject or despise them, because we can- 
not comprehend them. 

Finally, since God is infinite in wisdom, let us seek wisdom of him. ' If any 
of you lack wisdom,' says the apostle, 'let him ask of God, that giveth to all 
men liberally, and upbraideth not ; and it shall be given him.' ^ 

The Holiness of God. 

God is most holy, or infinite in holiness, which is essential to him. He is often 
styled, * The Holy One of Israel ;'^ and this attribute is thrice repeated by the 
seraphim, who, with the utmost reverence and adoration, ' cry one unto another, 
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts.''' And he is said to be holy, exclusively of 

f John xiii. 7. g Psal. viii. 3, 4. h James i. 5. i Isa. i. 4. k Chap. vi. 3. 


all others ; as this is a divine perfection, and as he is infinitely and independently 
holy. ' Lord, thou only art holy ;'^ and the reason of this is assigned, namely, 
that he is the only God. Holiness is his very nature and essence. ' There is none 
holy as the Lord ; for there is none besides him.''" 

In considering this divine perfection, we shall inquire, first, what we are to un- 
derstand by it. Holiness is that whereby God is infinitely opposite to every thing 
that tends to reflect dishonour or reproach on his divine perfections. He is holy, 
especially, as he is infinitely opposite, in his nature, will, and works, to all moral 
impurity. As his power is opposed to all natural weakness, and his wisdom to the 
least defect of understanding ; so his holiness is opposed to all moral blemishes, 
or imperfections, which we call sin. Holiness, therefore, is not so much one per- 
fection as the harmony of all his perfections, as they are opposed to sin. Hence 
it is called, ' The beauty of the Lord.'" And when the psalmist prays, that the 
church may be made an holy people, and dealt with as such, he says, ' Let the 
beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.'° God's holiness is that which, if we may 
so express it, adds a lustre to all Iiis other perfections ; so that if he were not 
glorious in holiness, whatever else might be said of him, would tend rather to his 
dishonour than his glory, and the beauty of his perfections would be so sullied that 
they could not be called divine. As holiness is the brightest part of the image of 
God in man, without which nothing could be mentioned concerning him but what 
turns to his reproach, his wisdom would deserve no better a name than that of sub- 
tilty, his power would be injurious and destructive, and his zeal furious madness. 
Thus, if we separate holiness from the divine nature, all other excellences would be 
inglorious, because impure. 

We shall next consider the holiness of God, as glorified or demonstrated in vari- 
ous instances. 

1. The holiness of God appears in his works. This perfection was as eminently 
displayed in the work of creation, especially that of angels and men, as his power, 
wisdom, and goodness. He made them with a periect rectitude ot nature, with a 
power to retain it, and without the least spot or propensity to sin. There was no 
natural necessity laid on them to commit sin, which might infer God to be the 
author of it. — Furthermore, as a moral expedient to prevent it, as well as to assert 
his own sovereignty, he gave them a law, which was holy, as well as just and good, 
and warned them of those dreadful consequences which would ensue on its viola- 
tion, — showing them that it would render them unholy, deprive them of his image, 
and consequently separate them from him, and render them the objects of his abhor- 
rence. — We may add, that his end in making all other things was, that his intelli- 
gent creatures might actively glorify him, and be induced to holiness. 

2. The holiness of God appears in the government of the world and of the church, 
in all the dispensations of his providence, either in a way of judgment or of mercy. 
He shows his displeasure against nothing but sin, — which is the only thing that 
renders creatures the objects of punishment ; and all the blessings he bestows are 
a motive to holiness. As to his people, whom he hath the greatest regard for, 
they are described, as ' called to be saints ;' p and it is said of the church of Israel, 
that it was ' holiness unto the Lord.'i All his ordinances also are holy, and are 
to be engaged in with such a irame of spirit as is agreeable to holiness. Accord- 
ingly he says, ' I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me T'' and ' holiness 
becometh his house for ever.' "* We are hence to estimate the success of the divine 
ordinances by their sanctifying efi'ects, — when, through the divine blessing accom- 
panying them, they tend to promote internal holiness in those who are engaged in 
them, so that they become distinguished from the rest of the world, and * sancti- 
fied through his truth,'* 

It may be objected by some, that God's suffering sin to enter into the world, 
which he might have prevented, was a reflection on his holiness. It must be 
allowed, indeed, that God might have prevented the entrance of sin into the world, 
by his immediate interposition, and so have kept man upright, as well as made him 

1 Kev. XV. 4. m 1 Sam. ii. 2. n Ps:il. xxvii. 4. o Psal. xc. 17. p 1 Cor. i 2. 

q Jer. iL 3. r Lev- x. 3. h Psul. xciii. 5. t John xvii. 17. 



SO. Yet let it be considered, that he was not obliged to do this ; and therefore 
might, without any reflection on his holiness, leave an innocent creature to the 
conduct of his own free will, so that this creature might be tempted, but not forced, 
to sin, — especially as he designed to overrule the event to the setting forth of the 
glory of all his perfections, and, in an eminent degree, of that of his holiness. This 
point, however, will be more particularly considered when we come to discuss some 
other questions." 

From what has been said, concerning the holiness of God, let us take occasion 
to behold and admire the beauty and glory of it, in all the divine dispensations. 
He can neither do, nor enjoin, any thing but what sets forth his infinite purity. 
And as he cannot be the author of sin, we must take heed that we do not advance 
any doctrines from which this consequence may be inferred. The holiness of God 
ought to be the standard by which they are to be tried, — as we shall take occasion 
to observe in several instances ; and we ought to think ourselves as much concerned 
to advance the glory of this perfection, as that of any other. Yet it is one thing 
for persons to oppose what appears to be a truth, by alleging this popular objection, 
that it is contrary to the holiness of God ; and another thing to support the charge. 
This will be particularly considered, when the objection, as brought against the 
doctrine of predestination, and several other doctrines, is answered in its proper 

It is an excellency, beauty, and glory, in the Christian religion, which should 
make us more in love with it, that it leads to holiness, which was the image of 
God in man. All other religions have indulged, led to, or dispensed with many 
impurities ; as for example, those of the Mahommedans and the Pagans. And 
the different religions professed by persons called Christians, are to be regarded 
as more or less valuable, and to be embraced or rejected, as they tend more or less 
to promote holiness. Here I cannot but observe, that it is a singular excellency 
of the Protestant religion above the Popish, that all its doctrines and precepts 
have a tendency to holiness, while the other admits of, dispenses with, and gives 
countenance to manifold impurities. This will appear, if we consider some of the 
doctrines held by Papists, which lead to licentiousness. Of this class, is their doc- 
trine that some sins are, in their own nature, so small as not to deserve eternal 
punishment, — that satisfaction is to be made for them, by undergoing some pen- 
ances enjoined them by the priest,- — and that on this condition, he gives absolution 
to the offenders, and discharges them from any farther concern about their sins. 
This doctrine is certainly subversive of holiness, as well as contrary to scripture, 
which says, ' The wages of sin is death. '^ The word of God knows no distinction 
between mortal and venial sins, especially in the sense which the Papists entertain. 
Again, the doctrine of indulgences and dispensations to sin, given forth at a cer- 
tain rate, is contrary to holiness. This doctrine, as displayed in practice, was a 
matter of great scandal to those who, among other reasons, took occasion from it, 
to separate from the church of Rome in the beginning of the Reformation ; and, 
by their protesting against it, and expressing a just indignation against the vile 
practices to which it led, they gave glory to the holiness of God. The Papists, it 
is true, allege, in defence of the practice of indulgences, that it is maintained in 
compassion to those whose natural temper leads them, with impetuous violence, to 
those sins which are dispensed with ; and that it is, in some respects, necessary, 
inasmuch as the temptations of some, arising from their condition in the world, are 
greater than others are liable to. But no such excuses will exempt a person from 
thd guilt of sin, — much less warrant the practice of those who, by their indulgences, 
encourage them to commit it. Another doctrine maintained by the Papists is, 
that the law of God, as conformed to human laws, respects only outward actions 
or overt acts, as they are generally called, and not the heart, or the principle 
whence they proceed; and that, therefore, concupiscence, or the corruption of 
nature, which is the impure fountain whence all sins proceed, comes not under the 
cognizance of the divine law, nor exposes us to any degree of punishment. They 
entertain this view of concupiscence, either because they suppose it unavoidable, 

u Quest, xvi. xvii. xxi. and xxx. x Rom. vi. 23. 


or because every sin is an act, and not a habit, — the offspring or effect of ' lust ;' 
and to obtain countenance to their sentiment, thej pervert the words of the apostle, 
' And lust, when it has conceived, bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when it is finished, 
bringeth forth death. '^ Now, how much soever actual sins may be supposed to be 
scandalous and pernicious to the world in proportion as they are visible, the spring 
of defiled actions is, in reality, more corrupt and abominable, than the actions 
themselves. If the fruit be corrupt, the tree which brings it forth must be 
much more so. And though this is not so discernible by others, yet it is 
abhorred and punished by a jealous God, who searches the heart and the reins. 
This doctrine of the papists, therefore, is contrary to his holiness. — Another 
doctrine which reflects on the divine holiness, is that of the merit of good 
works, and our justification by them. This doctrine makes way for boasting, 
and is inconsistent with that humility which is the main ingredient in holiness. It 
also casts the highest reflection on Christ's satisfaction, which is the greatest ex- 
pedient for setting forth the holiness of God ; and argues it not to have been abso- 
lutely necessary, and substitutes our imperfect works in its room. — We may instance, 
further, the doctrine of purgatory, and of prayers for the dead. This the papists 
are as tenacious of, as Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen were of the image of 
Diana at Ephesus. The destruction of it would endanger their craft ;^ and any 
disregard of it would bring no small detriment to them. But what renders it most 
abominable, is, that it extenuates the demerit of sin, and supposes it possible for 
the living to do that for the dead by their prayers which the latter neglected to do 
whilst they were alive. Persons, from this presumptuous supposition, do not see an 
absolute necessity of holiness to salvation. These, and many other doctrines which 
might have been mentioned, cast the highest reflection on the holiness of God, and 
not only evince the justice and necessity of the Reformation, but oblige us to main- 
tain the contrary doctrines. If by way of reprisal, it be objected that there are 
many doctrines which we maintain, that lead to licentiousness, I hope we shall be 
able to exculpate ourselves ; but this subject we reserve for its proper place, that we 
may avoid the repetition of things which we shall be obliged to insist on elsewhere. 
As a further practical improvement of what we have taught respecting the holi- 
ness of God, let us not practically deny, or cast contempt on, this divine perfection. 
This we may be said to do, when we live without God in the world, as though we 
were under no obligation to holiness. The purity of the divine nature is proposed 
in scripture, not only as a motive, but so far as conformity to it is possible, as an 
exemplar of holiness. We are exhorted to be holy, not only because God is holy, 
but 'as he is holy,''^ or so far as the image of God in man consists in holiness. 
They who 'live without God in the world, being alienated from his life,' that is, his 
holiness, ' and giving themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness 
with greediness,' regard not the holiness of his nature or law. These sin presump- 
tuously, and, accordingly, are said to ' reproach the Lord,''' as though he were a 
God that had pleasure in wickedness ; or if they conclude him to be infinitely 
offended with it, they regard not the consequence of being the objects of his dis- 
pleasure and fiery indignation. — Again, men reflect on the holiness of God, when 
they complain of religion, as though this were too strict and severe a thing, a yoke 
that sits very uneasy upon them ; and when they resolve to keep at the greatest 
distance from it, unless they may have some abatements made, or indulgence 
given, to live in the commission of some beloved lusts. These cannot bear a faith- 
ful reprover. Thus Ahab ' hated Micaiah, because he did not prophesy good 
concerning him, but evil.' Thus also the people in Isaiah's days, did not like to 
hear of the holiness of God ; and desired that the prophets would ' cause the Holy 
One of Israel to cease from before them.'^ — We may add, that they also do, in 
effect, deny or despise God's holiness, who entertain an enmity or prejudice against 
holiness in persons whose conversation is not only blameless, but exemplary. Such 
make use of the word ' saint,' as a term of reproach ; as though holiness were not 
only a worthless thing, but a blemish or disparagement to the nature of man, — a 
stain on his character, — a thing to be avoided by aU who have any regard to their 

y James i. 15. z Acts xix. 25, 2". a 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. b Num. xv. SO. c Isa, xxx. U ' 



reputation ; or, at least, as thouo-h religion were mere hypocrisy, particularly ■when 
it shines brightest in the conversation of those who esteem it their greatest orna- 
ment. What is this, but to spurn at the holiness of God, by endeavouring to 
bring that into contempt which is his image and delight ? 

The Justice of God. 

God is most just. This attribute differs but little from that of holiness. The 
two are sometimes distinguished thus : as holiness is the contrariety or opposition of 
his nature to sin, justice is an external and visible display of that opposition. In 
particular, when God is said to be just, he is considered as the Governor of the 
world. Hence, when he appears in the glory of his justice, he bears the character 
of a Judge ; accordingly, it is said concerning him, * Shall not the Judge of all the 
eai-th do right ?''^ and he is said, ' without respect of persons to judge according to 
every man's work.'^ The justice of God is sometimes taken for his faithfulness, 
whicli is a doing justice to his word. This view of it, however, will bo more 
particularly considered, when we speak of liim as abundant in truth. According 
to the most common and known sense of the word, it is taken either for his dispos- 
ing, or for his distributive justice. The former is that whereby his holiness shines 
forth in all the dispensations of his providence ; all his ways being equitable, of 
W'hat kind soever they are. The latter, or his distributive justice, consists either 
in rewarding or punishing, and so is styled either remunerative or vindictive, [See 
note 2 F, page 126.] In these two respects, we shall more particularly consider 
this attribute. 

As to the remunerative justice of God, he may be said to give rewards to his 
creatures, without our supposing the persons who are the subjects of them to have 
done anything by which they have merited them. We often find, in scripture, that 
the heavenly glory is set forth as a reward ;^ and it is called, ' a crown of right- 
eousness, which the Lord, tlie righteous Judge, shall give at that day,'s that is, when 
he appears, in the glory of his justice, to judge the world in righteousness. Scrip- 
ture says also that it is ' a righteous thing with God to recompense to his people 
who are troubled, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven. ''^ As to 
the meaning of such expressions, I humbly conceive that they import the necessary 
and inseparable connection that subsists between grace wrought in us, and glory con- 
ferred upon us. Glory is called, indeed, a reward, or a crown of righteousness, to 
encourage us to duty ; but it is so called, without supposing that what we do is in 
any degree meritorious. If we ourselves are less than the least of all God's mer- 
cies, then the best actions performed by us must be so ; for the action cannot have 
more honour ascribed to it than the agent. Or if, as our Saviour says, when 'we 
have done all, we must say we are unprofitable servants,'' and that sincerely, and 
not in a way of compliment, as some Popish writers, consistently with their doc- 
trine of the merit of good works, understand it : we must conclude that glory is a 
reward not of debt, but of grace. The phrase, remunerative justice, therefore, is 
taken in an accommodated sense. The reward is not a blessing purchased by us, 
but for us. Christ is the purchaser, we are the receivers. It is strictly and pro- 
perly the reward of his merit ; but, in its application, it is the giit of his grace. 

Next, there is the vindictive justice of God. By this he punishes sin, as an in- 
jury offered to liis divine perfections, an affront to his sovereignty, a reflection on 
his holiness, and a violation of his law. For these he demands satisfaction, and 
inflicts punishment, proportioned to the nature of the crime ; and this he continues 
to do, till satisfaction be given. This is called his ' visiting iniquity, '^ or ' visiting 
for it ;'^ it is also called, his ' setting his face against ' a person, and ' cutting him 
off from amongst his people.'"* When he does this, his wrath is compared to flames 
of fire, — it is called, ' the fire of his jealousy ;'" and they who are the objects 
of it are said to ' faU into the hands of the living God,' who is ' a consuming fire.'** 

d Gen. xviii. 25. e 1 Pet. i. 17- f Matt. x. 41, 42, and 1 Cor. iii. 14. g 2 Tim. iv. 8. 

h 2 Thess. i. 6, 7. i I-iuke xvi. 10. k Deut. v. 9. 1 Jer. v. 9. m Lev. xvii. 10. 

n Zepb. i. 18. o Heb. x. 31, compared with chiip. xii. 29. 


But that wo may farther consider how God glorifies his justice, and thereby 
shows his infinite'hatred of sin, we may observe that an eminent display of it wa's 
made in his inflicting that punishment which was due to our sins, on the person of 
Christ our Surety. It was, indeed, the highest act of condescending grace that 
Christ was willing to be charged with the iniquity of his people, or to have it laid 
upon him ; but it was the greatest display of vindictive justice, that he was accord- 
ingly punished for it. He is said to have been 'made sin for us, who knew no sin ;'i 
and God gave a commission to ' the sword' of his justice, to 'awake' and exert itself 
in an uncommon manner, against him, ' the man his fellow. '"■ In this instance, 
satisfaction was not only demanded, but fully given ; and in that respect it dif- 
fered from all the other displays of vindictive justice. On this subject, however, 
more will be said under some following answers.^ 

Again, the vindictive justice of God is displayed in punishing sin in the persons 
of finally impenitent sinners in hell. There a demand of satisfaction is perpetually 
made, but can never be given. For this reason the punishment inflicted is eternal ; 
and it is accordingly called, ' everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord 
and from the glory of his power.'* This subject also we shall have occasion to-in- 
sist on more largely, under a following answer." 

In the two instances we have specified, punishment is taken in a strict and pro- 
per sense. There is, however, another sense, in which, though many evils called 
punishments are inflicted for sins committed, the word is taken in a less proper 
sense. In this sense, believers, who are justified on account of the satisfaction 
which Christ has given for their sins, are said to be punished for them. Thus it is 
said, ' Thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve ;"^ and ' If 
his children forsake my law, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit 
their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes ; nevertheless, my 
loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him.' ^ And the prophet, though speak- 
ing of some for whom God would execute judgment, and to whom he would be 
favourable in the end, so that they should behold his righteousness, yet represents 
them as ' bearing the indignation of the Lord, because they had sinned against 
him.'^ As these evils are exceedingly afliictive, being often attended with a sad 
apprehension and fear of the wrath of God, and as sin is the cause of them, they 
are called punishments. Yet they difier from punishment in its most proper sense ; 
for though justice inflicts evils on believers for sin, it doth not in doing so demand 
satisfaction : inasmuch as they are considered as justified, that is supposed to have 
been given ; and, to speak with reverence, it is not agreeable to the nature of jus- 
tice to demand satisfaction twice. Nevertheless, it is one thing for God really to 
demand it, and another thing for believers to apprehend or conclude that such a 
demand is made. This they may often do, as questioning whether tfcey are be- 
lievers, or ift a justified state. God's design, however, in these afflictive dispensa- 
tions, whatever he determines shall be the consequence of them, is to humble his 
people greatly, and to show them the demerit of sin. Moreover, the persons who 
are the subjects of these punishments, are considered not as enemies, but as chil- 
dren, and therefore as the objects of his love, at the same time that his hand is 
heavy upon them. For this reason some have called them castigatory punishments, 
agreeably to what the apostle saith, ' Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth ; ' and 
' He dealeth with them as with sons.' * 

From what has been said, concerning the justice of God in rewarding or punish- 
ing, we may learn that, since the heavenly blessedness is called a reward, to denote 
its connection with grace and duty, no person may presumptuously expect the one 
without the other. The crown is not to be put upon the head of any one, but him 
that runs the Christian race ; and it is a certain truth, that 'without holiness no man 
shall see the Lord.'^ On the other haiid, as this is a reward of grace, founded on 
Christ's purchase, let us take heed that we do not ascribe that to our performances 
which is founded wholly on Christ's merit. Let every thing, in the idea of a re- 

q 2 Cor. v. 21. r Zech. xiii. 7. s Quest, xliv. and Ixxi. t 2 Thess. i. 9. 

u Quest, xxix. and Ixxxix. x Ezra ix. 13. y Fsal. Ixxxix. 30 — 33. 

z Alicah vii. 9. u lleb. xii. 6, 7. IJ Cbap. xii. 14. 


ward, that may be reckoned a spur to diligence, be apprehended and improved by 
us, to quicken and excite us to duty ; but whatever there is in it of praise and glory, 
let it be ascribed to Christ. When we consider the heavenly blessedness in this 
view, let us say, as the angels and the blessed company who are joined with them 
are represented as saying, ' Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, 
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. '•= It 
is the price that he paid which gives it the character of a reward ; and therefore the 
glory of it is to be ascribed to him. 

From what has been said concerning the vindictive justice of God in inflicting 
punishment on his enemies, let us learn the evil and heinous nature of sin, and take 
warning, that we may not expose ourselves to the same or like judgments. How 
deplorable is the condition of those who have contracted a debt which they can 
never pay, — who are said ' to drink of the wrath of the Almighty, which is poured 
out, without mixture, into the cup of his indignation!'*^ This consideration should 
induce us to flee from the wrath to come, and to make a right improvement of the 
price of redemption, which was given by Christ, to deliver his people from wrath. 

Believers, who are delivered from the vindictive justice of God, have the highest 
reason for thankfulness ; and under all the afflictive evils which they endure, it is a 
very great encouragement to them, that the most bitter ingredients are extracted. 
Their afflictions, it is true, are not in themselves 'joyous, but grievous ; neverthe- 
less, afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them who are 
exercised thereby.'® And let us not presume without ground, but give diligence 
to have good reason for concluding, that these are the dispensations of a reconciled 
Father, who ' corrects with judgment, not in anger, lest he should bring us to no- 
thing.'^ It will afford great matter of comfort, if we can say, that he is, at the 
same time, 'a just God and a Saviour, 's and that, as one observes, though he 
punishes /or sin, yet it is not with the punishment of sin. 

Tlie Benignity of God. 

God is most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness. 
These perfections are mentioned together in Exod. xxxiv. 7. We shall consider first 
bis goodness, which, in some respects, includes the others ; though in other pas- 
sages, it is distinguished from them, as will be afterwards more particularly observed. 
This being one of his communicable perfections, we may conceive of it by com- 
paring it with that goodness which is in the creature ; for by separating all the 
imperfections of it as it exists in the creature we may arrive at some idea of it. 

Persons are denominated good, as having all those perfections that be- 
long to tlf^ir nature. This is the most extensive sense of goodness. It is 
taken also in a moral sense, and so consists in the rectitude of their nature. In 
this sense, we call a holy man a good man. Lastly, it is affirmed of one who is 
beneficent, or communicatively good, and so is the same with benignity. Now, as 
seen in this light, the goodness of God includes in it either all his perfections, or 
his holiness in particular, or his being disposed to impart or communicate those 
blessings to his creatures which they stand in need of ; and thus are we to under- 
stand it, as distinguished from his other perfections. This goodness of God sup- 
poses that he has, in himself, an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessed- 
ness, enough to fill all things, and to make his creatures completely happy. This 
he had from all eternity, before there was any object in which it might be displayed, 
or any act of power put forth to produce one. It is this the psalmist intends, 
when he says,^ ' Thou art good ;' and when he adds, ' Thou doest good,' as the 
former implies his being good in himself» the latter denotes his being so to his 

Before we treat of this perfection in particular, we shall observe the difference 
that there is between goodness, mercy, grace, and patience, which, though they all 
are included in the divine benignity, and imply in them the communication of some 

c Rev. V. 12. d Job xxi. 20. compared with Rev. xiv. 10. e Heb. xii. 11. 

f Jer. X. 24. g Isa. xlv. 21. h Psal. cxix. 68. 


favours which tend to the creature's advantage, as well as to the glory of God, 
may be distinguished with respect to their objects. Goodness considers its object 
as indio-ent and destitute of all things ; and so communicates those blessings that it 
stands In need of. Mercy considers its object as miseraJble ; and though an inno- 
cent creature may be the object of the divine bounty and goodness, it is only a 
fallen, miserable, and undone creature, that is an object of compassion. Grace is 
mercy displayed freely ; and its object is considered as not only miserable but un- 
worthy. At the same time, though the sinner's misery and his unworthiness of 
pity, may be distinguished, the two ideas cannot be separated ; for that which ren- 
ders' him miserable, constitutes him at the same time guilty, misery being insepar- 
ably connected with guilt, and no creature being miserable but as a sinner. We are 
considered, therefore, as unworthy of mercy, and in consequence objects of divine 
gi-ace, — which is mercy extended freely to those who have rendered themselves un- 
worthy of it. Patience and long-suffering, is the suspending of deserved fury, or 
the continuing to bestow undeserved favours, — a lengthening out of our tranquillity. 
These attributes are now to be considered in particular. And, first. 

The Goodness of God. 

As God was infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display or 
act of omnipotence ; so he was eternally good, before there was any communication 
of his bounty, or any creature to which it might be imparted. The first display of 
this perfection was in giving being to all things ; which were the objects of his 
bounty and goodness, as well as the effects of his power. And all the excellencies 
or advantages, which one creature hath above another, are as so many streams flow- 
ing from this fountain. ' He giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things.'^ 

The Mercy of God. 

The mercy of God considers its object as miserable, and is illustrated by all those 
distressing circumstances which render sinners the objects of compassion. Are all 
by nature bond-slaves to sin and Satan ? It is mercy that sets them free, ' deli- 
vers them, who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.'^ 
Are we all by nature dead in sin, unable to do what is spiritually good, alienated 
from the life of God ? Was our condition miserable, as being without God in the 
world, and without hope, — like the poor infant, mentioned by the prophet, ' cast 
out in the open field, to the loathing of our persons, whom no eye pitied ?' It was 
mercy that ' said to us, Live.'^ Accordingly, God is said to have ' remembered us in 
our low estate, for his mercy endureth for ever.'*^ 

The mercy of God is either common or special. Common mercy gives all the 
outward conveniences of this life ; which are bestowed without distinction. ' He 
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and 
on the unjust.'"^ 'His tender mercies are over all his works. '° But his special 
mercy is that which he bestows on, or has reserved for, the heirs of salvation, and 
which he communicates to them in a covenant way, in and through a Mediator. 
Accordingly, the apostle speaks of God, as ' the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. 'p 

The Grace of God. 

As God is said to be merciful, or to extend compassion to the miserable ; so he 
doth this freely, and accordingly is said to be gracious. And as grace is free, so 
it is sovereign, and is bestowed in a discriminating way. That is given to one, 
which he denies to another ; and only because it is his pleasure. Accordingly, one 
of Christ's disciples says, ' Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, 
and not unto the world ?'i And our Saviour himself glorifies God for the display 

i Acts xvii. 25. k Heb. ii. 15. 1 Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, 6. m Psal. cxxxvi. 23. 

Ti Matt. V. 45. o Psal. cxW. 9. p 2 Cor. i. 3. q John xiv. 22. 


of his grace, in such a manner, when he sajs, ' I thank thee, Father, Lord of 
heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, 
and hast reveah^d them unto babes ;' and he considers this as the result of hi-; 
sovereign will, when he adds, ' even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy siglit.' 
The discriminating grace of God appears in several instances. 

1. It appears in his extending salvation to men, rather than to fallen angels. Ou^ 
Saviour ' took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham,' because ha 
designed to save the one, and to reserve the other ' in chains, under darkness, un- 
to the judgment of the great day.'* And among men, all of whom were equall} 
unworthy of this invaluable blessing, only some are made partakers of it, and their 
number is comparatively very smaU. They are called 'a little flock ;' and 'the 
gate' through which they enter 'is strait;' and 'the way is narrow that leads 
to life, and few there be that find it.'' There are many who make a considerable 
figure in the world for riches, honours, great natural abilities, bestowed by common 
providence, who are destitute of special grace ; while others, who are poor and de- 
spised in the world, are called and saved. The apostle observed it to be so in his 
day, when he said, ' Not many mighty, not many noble, are called ; but God hath 
chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God "hath chosen the 
weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things 
of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which 
are not, to bring to nought things that are. '" 

2. The discriminating grace of God appears in several things relating to the inter- 
nal means whereby he fits and disposes men for salvation. Thus the work of con- 
version is an eminent instance of discriminating grace ; for herein he breaks 
through, and overcomes, that reluctance and opposition, which corrupt nature 
makes against it, — subdues the enmity and rebellion that were in the heart of man, 
— and works a powerful change in the will, whereby he subjects it to himself, con- 
trary to its natural bias and inclination. That which renders this grace more 
illustrious, is, that many of those who are thus converted, were previously notori- 
ous sinners. Some were 'blasphemers, persecutors, and injurious.' The apostle 
says this concerning himself before his conversion, and concludes himself to have 
been ' the chief of sinners ;' and he tells us, how he ' shut up many of the saints in 
prison,' and how, when they w^re put to death, 'he gave his voice against them, 
and punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and, 
being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them even unto strange cities.'-"^ But 
you -mil say, " He was, in other respects, a moral man." He, therefore, gives an 
instance elsewhere of some who were far from being so, whom he puts in mind of 
having been ' fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves 
with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners.' ' Such, 'says he, 
' were some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified.' 
Moreover, the change wrought in the soul is unasked for ; and hence it may truly 
be said, ' God is found of them that sought him not.' The change is also undesired ; 
for though unregenerate sinners desire to be delivered from misery, they are far 
from desiring to be delivered from sin, or to have repentance, faith, and holiness. 
If they pray for these blessings, their desires are conceived in such a manner, that 
the Spirit of God hardly calls them prayer. The Spirit of grace and of supplica- 
tions, by which alone we are enabled to pray in a right manner, is what accom- 
panies or flows from conversion. If, therefore, God bestows this blessing on persons 
so unworthy of it, and so averse to it, it must certainly be an instance of sovereign 
and discriminating grace. 

3. The discriminating grace of God appears, farther, if we consider how much 
they who are the objects of it, differ from what they were, or if we compare their 
present with their former state. Once they were blind and ignorant of the ways 
of God, and going astray in crooked paths. The apostle speaks of this in the 
abstract: ' Ye were sometimes darkness ;'y and ' The god of this world had blinded 
the minds of some, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine 

r Matt. xi. 25, 26. s Heb. ii. 16. compared with Jude 6. t Luke xii. 32. compared 

with Matt. vii. 13, 14. u 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28. x 1 Tim. i. 13, 15. compared with 

Acts XX vi. 10, 11. y Eph. v. 8. 


unto them ;'* but now they are made ' light in the Lord,' and brought into the v,-aj 
of truth and peace. Their hearts were once impenitent, unrelenting, and inclined 
to sin, without remorse or self-reflection. Nothing could make an impression on 
them ; for they were ' past feeling, and gave themselves over to lascivioui^ness, to 
work all uncleanness with greediness.''' But now they are penitent, humble, re- 
lenting, and broken under a sense of sin, afraid of every thing that may be an 
occasion of it, willing to be reproved for it, and desirous to be set at a greater dis- 
tance from it. Once they were destitute of hope, or solid peace of conscience ; 
but now they have hope and joy in believing, and are delivered from that bondage 
in which they were formerly enthralled. A happy turn is thus given to the frame 
of their spirits. And as to the external and relative change which is made in their 
state, there is no condemnation to them as justified persons. Hence, they who 
were formerly in the utmost distress, expecting nothing but hell and destruction, 
are enabled to lift up their heads with joy, experiencing the blessed fruits and effects 
of this grace in their souls. 

The discriminating grace of God farther appears, in his bestowing saving bless- 
ings on his people, at seasons when they appear most suitable and adapted to their 
condition. He is a very present help in a time of trouble ; and when their straits 
and difficulties are greatest, then is his time to send relief. When sinners some- 
times have wearied themselves in the greatness of their way, while seeking rest 
and happiness in other things than the divine favour, and finding only disappoint- 
ment, and when they are brought to the utmost extremity, then he appears in their 
behalf. So with respect to believers, when their comforts are at the lowest ebb, their 
hope almost degenerated into despair, their temptations most prevalent and afflict- 
ing, and they ready to sink under the weight that lies on their spirits, — when, as 
the psalmist says, their 'hearts are overwhelmed within them,' then 'he leads 
them to the rock that is higher than they.'*' When they are even ' desolate and 
afl[licted, and the troubles of their hearts are enlarged, then he brings them out of 
their distresses.'*^ 

Thus the grace of God eminently appears, in what he bestows on his people. 
But if we look forward, and consider what he has prepared for them, or the hope 
that is laid up in heaven, then we may behold the most amazing displays of grace, 
in which they who shall be the happy objects of it, will be a wonder to themselves, 
and will see more of the glory of it than can now be expressed in words. Hence 
the psalmist says, in a way of admiration, ' O how great is thy goodness, which 
thou liast laid up for them that fear thee ; which thou hast wrought for them that 
trust in thee, before the sons of men! '^ 

It may, perhaps, be objected, that the afflictions which God's people are exposed 
to in this life, are inconsistent with the glory of his grace and mercy. But afilic- 
tive providences, so far from being inconsistent with the glory of these perfections, 
tend peculiarly to illustrate them. Afflictions are needful as an expedient to 
humble us for sin, and to prevent it for the future ; and however grievous they are, 
yet as they are overruled by God, as the apostle says, to 'yield the peaceable fruit 
of righteousness unto them who are exei'cised thereby,'^ they are far from being 
inconsistent with the mercy and grace of God. This will farther appear, if we 
consider that the outward afflictions are often attended with inward supports and 
spiritual comforts. Accordingly, the apostle says concerning himself, ' As the 
sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ ;'s and 
'though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.'^ 
Nothing but this could make him say, ' I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, 
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake ; for when I am weak, 
then am I strong.'' 

It is farther objected, that the doctrine of free grace leads men to licentiousness, 
and therefore that what we have said concerning it, is either not true and warrant- 
able, or at least, should not be much insisted on, lest licentiousness should ensue. 
Now those sinners only abuse the grace of God who presumptuously take occasion 

a 2 Cor. iv. 4. b Eph. iv. 19. c Psal. Ixi. 2. d Psal. xxv. 16, 17. e PsmI. xxxi. 19. 
f Heb. xii. 11. g 2 Cor. i. 5. h Chap. iv. 16. i Chap. xii. 10. 


from it to go on, as they apprehend, securely in sin, — alleging that God is merci- 
ful and gracious, and ready to forgive. The vile and disingenuous temper of such 
persons the apostle observed in some that lived in his days ; and he expresses the 
greatest abhorrence of it : ' Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound ? 
God forbid. '•^ But does it follow, that because the doctrine of grace is abused by 
some, as an occasion of licentiousness, through the corruption o: their nature, it 
therefore leads to it ? The greatest blessings may be the occasion of the greatest 
evils ; but yet they do not lead to them. That which leads to licentiousness must 
present some motive or inducement which will warrant an ingenuous mind, acting 
according to the rules of equity and justice, to take occasion to sin ; but this no- 
thing can do, much less the grace of God. His great clemency, indeed, may 
sometimes give occasion to those who hate him, and have ingratitude and rebellion 
rooted in their natures, to take up arms against him ; and an act of grace may be 
abused, so as to make the worst of criminals more bold in their wickedness, who 
presume that they may commit it with impunity. But this is not the natural 
tendency or genuine effect of grace ; nor will it be thus abused by any, but those 
who are abandoned to every thing that is vile and ungrateful. As the law of God 
prohibits all sin, and his holiness is opposed to it ; so his grace affords the strong- 
est motive to holiness. It is therefore the neglect or contempt of this grace, and 
a corrupt disposition to act contrary to the design of it, which leads to licentious- 
ness. Grace and duty are inseparably connected ; so that where God bestows the 
one, he expects the other. Yea, duty, which is our act, is God's gift, as the power 
to perform it is from him. Thus, when he promises to give his people ' a new 
heart,' and to 'put his Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in his statutes,' 
he tells them, that they should ' remember their evil ways and doings, and loath 
themselves in their own sight for their iniquities.' This is not only a prediction re- 
specting the event, but a promise of what he would incline them to do ; and when 
he adds, that 'for this he would be inquired of by them,'^ or that they should 
seek the blessings by fervent prayer, he secures to them by promise a disposition 
and grace to perform this great duty, which is inseparably connected with expect- 
ed blessings. God himself, therefore, will take care that, however others abuse 
his grace, it shall not lead those who are, in a distinguishing way, the objects of 
it, to licentiousness. We may add that it is a disparagement to this divine perfec- 
tion to say, that because some take occasion from it to continue in sin, its glory is 
therefore to be, as it were, concealed, and not published to the world. As some 
of old did not care to hear of the holiness of God, and required the prophets, if 
they would render their doctrine acceptable to them, not to insist on that perfec- 
tion, but to ' cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before them ;''" so there 
are many who are as little desirous to hear of the free and discriminating grace of 
God, which contains the very sum and substance of the gospel, lest it should be 
abused. The glory of it, on the contrary, cannot be enough admired ; and it ought, 
therefore, to be often recommended, as what leads to holiness, and lies at the very 
root of all religion. 

That the grace of God may be so improved, let it be farther considered, that it 
is the greatest inducement to humility, as well as one of the greatest ornaments 
and evidences Oi a true Christian. This appears from the nature of the thing ; for, 
as has been but now observed, grace supposes its object unworthy. It argues him 
a debtor to God for all that he enjoys or expects ; and this consideration, if duly 
weighed, will make him appear vile and worthless in his own eyes, and excite in 
him a degree of thankfulness in proportion to the ground he has to claim an in- 
terest in it, and the extensiveness of its blessed fruits and eflPects. 

The Patience of God. 

We proceed to speak of God as long-suffering, or, as he is styled by the apostle, 
'the God of patience.''* Sometimes this attribute is set forth in a metaphorical 
way, and called a ' restraining of his wrath,'" and ' refraining himself,' and 'hold- 

k Rom. vi. 1,2. 1 Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, 31, 37. m Isa. xxx. 11. 

n Rom. XV. b. o Psal. Ixxvi. 10. 


ing his peace,' or 'keeping silence.'? While he exercises patience, he is repre- 
sented, speaking after the manner of men, as one that is 'weary' with forbearing ; i 
and he is said to be ' pressed,' under a provoking people, 'as a cart is pressed that 
is full of sheaves.''' By all these expressions, the patience of God is set forth in a 
familiar style, according to our common way of speaking. But that we may briefly 
explain the nature of it, let us consider, in general, that it is a branch of his good- 
ness and mercy, manifested in suspending the exercise of his vindictive justice, and 
in his not punishing in such a degree as sin deserves. But that we may consider 
this more particularly, we shall observe something concerning the objects of it, 
and the various instances in which it is displayed ; how it is glorified ; 'how the 
glory of it is consistent with that of vindictive justice ; and lastly, how it is to be 
improved by us. 

1. As to the objects of God's patience, since it consists in deferring deserved 
wrath, an innocent creature cannot be the object of it. Vindictive justice makes 
no demand upon him ; nor has it any reserves of punishment laid up in store for him. 
Such a one, indeed, is the object of goodness, but not of forbearance ; for punish- 
ment cannot be said to be deferred t\^here it is not due. On the other hand, they 
cannot be said to be the objects of patience, in whom the vindictive justice of God 
is displayed to the utmost, when all the vials of his wrath are poured forth. 
Whether the devils are, in some sense, the objects of God's forbearance, as having 
ground to expect a greater degree of punishment after the final judgment, is dis- 
puted by some, who contend about the sense of the word ' forbearance.' They are 
said, indeed, to be ' reserved in chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the 
great day ;' ^ that is, though their state be hopeless, and their misery great beyond 
expression, yet there is a greater degree of punishment, which they bring upon them- 
selves, by all the hostilities they commit against God in this world. This farther ap- 
pears, from what they are represented as having said to our Saviour, ' Art thou come 
hitherto torment us before the time?'* a saying from which it is sufficiently evident 
that their misery shall be greater than now it is. Yet the less degree of punishment 
inflicted on them is never called, in scripture, an instance of God's patience or long- 
suffering towards them. We must conclude, therefore, that they are not, properly 
speaking, the objects of the glory of this attribute. Patience, then, is extended only 
to sinful men, while in this world. Accordingly it is called, in scripture, 'the riches 
of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-sulfering, ' " and is said to ' lead ' those who 
are the objects of it 'to repentance.' Hence there must, together with the exercise 
of this perfection, be a day or season of grace granted, which is called, in scripture, 
with a peculiar emphasis, tlie sinner's day, or ' the time of his visitation ; ' in which 
it ought to be his highest concern ' to know the things which belong unto his peace. '^ 
And the gospel that is preached, in this season of God's forbearance, is called, 'the 
word of his patience ;'y so that there is something more in this attribute than merely a 
deferring of punishment. Accordingly, God is said, to 'wait that he may be gra- 
cious;'^ and the eifectsand consequences of his waiting are various, — as may be said 
of all the means of grace. Sinners, who neglect to improve it, have in consequence 
of it not only a reprieve from deserved punishment, but also all those advantages of 
common grace which attend it. But with respect to believers, it may be said, in the 
words of the apostle, ' The long-suffering of our Lord is salvation.' ^ God spares 
them, therefore, not that he may take a more fit opportunity to punish them, but 
that he may wait the set time to favour them, and then extend to them salvation. 
In this respect more especially, the exercise of this perfection is founded in the 
death of Christ. And as the elect, who were purchased thereby, were, by the 
divine appointment, to live throughout all the ages of time, and to have the saving 
effects of his redemption applied to them, one after another, it was necessary that 
the patience of God should be so long continued. This perfection, therefore, is 
glorified more immediately with respect to them, as the result of the plan of redemp- 
tion ; and, in subserviency to this, it is extended to all the world. 

p .Isa. xlii. 14. and Psal. 1. 21. q Isa. i. 14. chap. vii. 13. Mai. ii. 17. r Amos ii. 13. 

s Jude 6. t Matt. viii. 29. u Rom. ii. 4. x Luke xix. 42, 44. 

y Rev. iii. 10. z Isa. xxx. 18. a 2 Pet. iii. 15. 

1. V 


2. The patience of God has been displayed in various instances. It was owing 
to it that God did not destroy our first parents as soon as they fell. He miglit 
then, without the least impeachment of his justice, have banished them for ever 
from his presence, and left their whole posterity destitute of the means of grace, 
and have punished them all in proportion to the guilt contracted. That the world 
is continued to this day, is therefore a very great instance of God's long-suffering. 
Again, when mankind were universally degenerate, and ' all flesh had corrupted 
their way,' before the flood, and God determined to destroy them, yet he would not 
do this, till in the display of his patience he had given an intimation of this deso- 
lating judgment, an hundred and twenty years before it came.^ And Noah was, 
during this period, ' a preacher of righteousness ;' while ' the long-suffering of God ' 
is said to have ' waited ' on them."^ Further, the Gentiles, who not only worshipped 
and served the creature more than the Creator, but committed vile abominations, 
contrary to the dictates of nature, and thereby filled up the measure of their ini- 
quity, are said to be the objects of God's patience, — though in a lower sense than 
that in which believers are said to be so. Accordingly, the apostle observes, that 
' in times past God suff"ered all nations to walk in their own ways ;' that is, God 
did not ' draw forth his sword out of its sheath,' by which metaphor, the pro- 
phet sets forth the patience of God ; he did not stir up all his wrath, ' but gave 
them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their heart with fruit and glad- 
ness.'*^ Moreover, the church of the Jews, before the coming of Christ, had long 
experience of the forbearance of God. It is said, that ' he suffered their manners 
forty years in the wilderness.'^ And afterwards, when they often revolted to idol- 
atry, following the customs of the nations round about them, he did not utterly 
destroy them, but, in their distress, raised them up deliverers. And when their 
iniquity was grown to such a height, that none but a God of infinite patience could 
have borne with them, he spared them many years before he suffered them to be 
carried away captive into Babylon. And finally, when their rebellion against him 
had arrived at the highest pitch, — when they had crucified the Lord of glory, he 
spared them some time, till the gospel was first preached to them, and they liad re- 
jected it, and thereby 'judged themselves unworthy of everlasting lifc.'^ After this, 
the patience of God was extended to those also who endeavoured to pervert the 
gospel of Christ, namely, to false teachers and backsliding churches, — to whom 
he 'gave space to repent, but they repented not.'s We may add, that he has 
not yet poured forth the vials of his wrath on tli-e antichristian powers ; though he 
has threatened, that 'their plagues shall come in one day.'^ 

3. We are next to consider the method which God takes in glorifying his patience. 
We have already observed that, with respect to believers, the patience of God is 
glorified in subserviency to their salvation. With respect to others, by whom it is 
abused, it discovers itself in giving them warning of his judgments before he sends 
them. ' He speaketh once, yea twice, but man perceiveth it not, that he may with- 
draw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.'' Indeed, all the prophets 
were sent to the church of the Jews, not only to instruct them, but to warn them 
of approaching judgments; and they were faithful in the delivery of their message. 
In what moving terms doth the prophet Jeremiah lament the miseries which were 
ready to befall them! And with what zeal doth he endeavour, in the whole course 
of his ministry, to bring them to repentance, that the storm might blow over, or, 
if not, that their ruin might not come upon them altogether unexpected ! 

When the divine warnings are not regarded, and wrath must be poured forth on 
an obstinate and impenitent people, it is inflicted by degrees. God sends lesser 
judgments before greater, or inflicts his plagues, as he did upon Egypt, one after 
another, not all at once. So, in his judgments upon Israel of old, as the prophet 
Joel observes, — first the palmer-worm, then the locust, after that the canker-worm, 
and then the caterpillar, devoured the fruits of the earth, one after another.'^ 
The prophet Amos also observes, that first God sent a famine among them, which 

b Gen. vi. 2. 3. c 2 Pet. ii. 5. compared with 1 Pet. iii. 20. d Acts xiv. 16, 17. Ezek. xxi. 3. 
e Acts xiii. 18. 1 Acts xiii. 46. g Rev. ii. 21. h Rev. xviii. 8. 

i Job xxxiii. 14, 17. k Joel i. 4. 


he calls 'cleanness of teeth in all their cities;' and afterwards 'some of them were 
overthrown, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. '^ Some think that the grad- 
ual approach of divine judgments is intended bj what the prophet llosea says, 
■when 'the judgments of God' are compared to ' the light that goeth forth.' "■ This 
language implies more than is generally understood by it, — more than that the 
judgments of God should be rendered visible, as the light of the sun is ; for the 
prophet seems to intimate, that the judgments of God should be progressive like 
the light of the morning, which increases until a perfect day. It is more than 
probable that the same thing is intimated by the same prophet, when he represents 
God as saying concerning Ephraim, that he would be to them ' as a moth ; ' which 
doth not consume the garment all at once, as fire does, but frets it by degrees, ' or 
like rottenness,' which is of a spreading nature." Thus the judgments of God are 
poured forth by degrees, that together with them there may be, comparatively at 
least, a display of divine patience. 

Again, when God sends his judgments abroad into the world, he often moderates 
them. None are proportionate to the demerit of sin. Accordingly, it is said of 
liim, that being full of compassion, he ' forgave the iniquity ' of a very rebellious 
people ; that is, he did not punish them as their iniquity deserved, and therefore 
he ' destroyed them not, and did not stir up all his wrath. '° So the prophet Isaiah 
says concerning Israel, ' Hath God smitten him, as he smote those that smote him ? 
or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? In measure, 
when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it : he stayeth his rough wind in the 
day of the east wind.'? 

Further, when God cannot, in honour, defer his judgments any longer, he pours 
them forth, as it were, with reluctance ; as a judge, when he passeth sentence on a 
criminal, doth it with a kind of regret; not insulting his misery, but rather pitying it 
as unavoidable, because the course of j ustice must not be stopped. Thus the prophet 
says, ' God doth not afflict willingly, ' that is, with delight or pleasure, ' nor grieve the 
children of men ;'i that is, he doth not punish them because he delights to see them 
miserable, but to secure the rights of his own justice in the government of the world. 
So when Israel had been guilty of vile ingratitude and rebellion against him, and he 
threatens to turn his hand upon them, and destroy them, he expresseth himself in 
such terms, speaking after the manner of men, as imply a kind of uneasiness : ' Ah I 
I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.''" And before 
he gave up Israel into the hands of the Assyrians, he seems, again speaking after the 
manner of men, to have a hesitation or debate in his own mind, whether he 
should do so or not : ' How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver 
thee, Israel ? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ? 
Mine heart is turned within me ; my repentings are kindled together.'® And when 
our Saviour could not prevail upon Jerusalem to repent of their sins, and embrace 
his doctrine, — when he was obliged to pass sentence upon them, and to tell them 
that the things of their peace were hid from their eyes, and that their enemies 
should cast a trench about the city, and should lay it even with the ground, he 
could not speak of it without tears ; and 'when he beheld the city, he wept 
over it.'* 

4. The next thing to be considered, concerning the patience of God, is, how the 
glory of it is consistent with that of his vindictive justice ; or how he may be said 
to defer the punishment of sin, and yet appear to be a sin-hating God. It is cer- 
tain, that the glory of one divine perfection cannot interfere with that of another. 
As justice and mercy meet together in the work of redemption, so justice and 
patience do not oppose each other in any of the divine dispensations. Their de- 
mands, it is true, seem to be different : justice requires that the stroke should bo 
immediately given, while patience insists on a delay. Without this, patience does 
not appear to be a divine perfection ; and if it is so, and its glory is as necessary 
to be displayed as that of any of his other perfections, it must be glorified in this 

1 Amos iv. 8, 11. m Hos. vi. 5. n Chap. v. 12. o Psal. Ixxviii. 38- 

p Isa. xxvii. 7, 8. q Lam. iii. 33. r Isa. i. 24. s Hos. xi. 8. 

t Luke xix. 41, &c. 


world, by delaying the present exercise of the liighcst degree of vindictive justice, 
or it cannot be glorified at all. Justice will be glorified throughout all the ages of 
eternity, in those who are its objects ; but patience can then have no glory, since, 
as has been before observed, the greatest degree, either of happiness or of misery, 
is inconsistent with its exei'cise. This being, therefore, a perfection which redounds 
so much to the divine honour, we must not suppose that there is no expedient for 
its being glorified, or that the glory of vindictive justice is inconsistent with it. 

Now the harmony of these two perfections nmst be a little considered. [See 
Note 2 G, page 126.] Justice, it is true, obliges God to punish sin; yet it does 
not oblige him to do it immediately: tlie time, as well as the way, is to be resolved 
into his sovereign will. In order to make this appear, let us consider, that the de- 
sign of vindictive justice, in all the punishment it inflicts, is either to secure the 
glory of the holiness of God, or to assert his rights as the Governor of the world. 
If, then, the deferring of punishment doth not interfere with either of these, then 
the glory of God's patience is not inconsistent with that of his vindictive justice. 

Now the glory of his holiness, as connected with the display of his patience, is 
sufficiently secured. Though he delays to punish sin in the highest degree, yet, 
at the same time, he appears to hate it, by the threatenings which he hath denounced 
against sinners, which shall certainly have their accomplishment. If he says 
that ' he is angry with the wicked every day,' and that ' his soul hateth them,' is 
there any reason to suppose the contrary ? Or if he has threatened that ' he will 
rain upon them snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest, which shall be 
the portion of their cup,' and that because, ' as the righteous Lord, he loveth right- 
eousness/ " is not this a sufficient security for the glor}' of his holiness, against any 
thing that might be alleged to detract from it ? If threatened judgments be not 
sufficient, for the present, to evince the glory of this divine perfection, it will follow, 
on the other hand, that the promises he has made of blessings not yet bestowed, 
are to be as little regarded for the encouraging of our hope, and the securing of 
the glory of his other perfections ; and then his holiness would be as much blem- 
ished in delaying to reward, as it can be supposed to be in delaying to punish. If, 
therefore, the truth of God, which will certainly accomplish his threatenings, 
be a present security for the glory of his holiness, it is not absolutely necessary 
that vindictive justice should be immediately exercised in the destruction of 
sinners, and so exclude the exercise of God's forbearance and long-suflfering. 
Moreover, there are many terrible displays of God's vindictive justice in his 
present dealing with sinners. ' The Lord is known by the judgment which 
he executes,' as well as by those which he designs to pour forth, on his enemies. 
The wicked are now ' snared in the work of their own hands ;' and in the end they 
shall be 'turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.' ^ If vindictive 
justice takes occasion to inflict many temporal and spiritual judgments upon sin- 
ners in this world, then the glory of God's holiness is illustrated at tlie same time 
that his patience is prolonged. This may be observed in God's dealing with his 
murmuring and rebellious people in the wilderness ; which gave him occasion to 
take notice of the abuse of his patience, and to say, ' How long will this people 
provoke me ? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I 
have showed among them ?' ^ Justice was now ready to strike the fatal blow. ' I 
will,' says God, ' smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them.' This gave 
Moses occasion to intercede for them, and to plead the glory of God's patience. 
' The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy : Pardon,' said he, ' I beseech thee, 
the iniquity of this people, as thou hast forgiven them from Egypt, even until now;' 
by which he means, as I humbly conceive, ' Spare thy people, as thou hast often 
done, when, by reason of their provocations, thou mightest justly have destroyed 
them.' And God answers him in the following words, ' I have pardoned, according 
to thy word ;' but he adds, ' As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the 
glory of the Lord,' that is, with the report of the glory of his vindictive justice, 
which should be spread far and near ; and then he threatens them that they, that 
is, those who murmured against him, should not see the land of Canaan. Vindic- 

u Psal. xi. 6, 7. X Psal. ix. 16, 17. y Numb. xiv. 11, 18—21. 


tive justice, therefore, had its demands fulfilled in one respect, while patience was 
glorified in another. The psalmist referring to the occurrence, says, ' Thou 
ausweredst them, O Lord,' namely, Moses' prayer for them ; 'thou wast a God that 
forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.' ^ 

Consider, again, the vindictive justice of God, as tending to secure his rights 
as the Governor of the world, and as being ready to take vengeance for sin, which 
attempts to control his sovereign authority, and disturb the order of his govern- 
ment. The stroke of justice may be suspended for a time, that it may make way 
for the exercise of patience, provided there be no just occasion given for men to 
trample on the sovereignty of God, despise his authority, or rebel against him, 
without fear. Now these consequences will not necessarily result from his extending 
forbearance to sinners. We do not find that delaying to inflict punishment among 
men is any prejudice to their government ; and why should we suppose that the 
divine government should suffer any injury by it? When a prince puts off the trial 
of a malefactor for a time, in order that the indictment may be more fully proved, 
and the equity of his proceedings may more evidently appear, the postponement is 
always reckoned a greater excellency in his administration, than if he should proceed 
too hastily. And we never find that such a course tends to embolden the criminal, as 
impunity would do ; for he is punished, in part, by the loss of his liberty, and if he 
be convicted, he loses the privilege of an innocent subject, his life is forfeited, and 
he is in daily expectation of having it taken away. Now if such a method, or the 
allowing of a reprieve to some for a time, tends to secure the rights of a govern- 
ment, may not God stop the immediate proceedings of vindictive justice for a time, 
without the least infringement either on his holiness, or on his rectoral justice ? 

5. We come now to consider how the patience of God is to be improved by us. 
Since it is a divine perfection, and there is a revenue of glory due to God for the 
display of it, we ought to exercise those graces, which it engages us to. Some of the 
divine attributes tend to excite our fear ; but this should draw forth our admiration 
and praise. We have special reason to adore and admire it, when we consider how 
justly he might destroy us. The best man on earth may say, with the psalmist, 
* If thou. Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?'y He need not 
watch for occasions, or diligently search out some of the inadvertencies of life, in 
order to find matter for our conviction and condemnation. The multitude and the 
heinous aggravation of our sins, proclaim our desert of punishment, and might pro- 
voke his vengeance, and immediately draw it down upon us. What fartlier enhances 
our guilt is, that we provoke him, though laid under the highest obligations to serve 
and love him. How easily, too, miglit he bring ruin and destruction upon us I He 
does not forbear to punish us for want of power, as earthly kings often do ; or be- 
cause the exercise of justice might weaken his government, or occasion some rebel- 
lions which could not easily be put a stop to. David says concerning himself, that 
he was 'weak, though anointed king,' and that on occasion of Joab's having forfeited 
his life, when the necessity of affairs required the suspendhig of his punishment, 
'the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for him.''^ No such thing can be said of God; he 
is represented as ' slow to anger, and great in power ;'^ that is, he does not punish, 
though he easily could. It would be no greater difficulty for him immediately to 
destroy an ungodly world, than it is to crush a moth or a worm, or to break a leaf. 
"Finite power can make no resistance against that which is infinite. What are briars 
and thorns before the consuming fire ? 

Let us take heed that we do not abuse the divine patience. It is a crime to 
abuse the mercy of God, even in the smallest instances of it ; and much more is it 
so to slight and contemn the riches of his forbearance or mercy, as extended to so 
great a length as it has been to most of us. This crime is committed by those 
who infer from his forbearing to pour forth his fury on sinners, that he neglects 
the government of the world ; or who take occasion from it to deny a providence ; 
or who, because his threatenings are not executed at present, do, as it were, defy 
him to do his worst against them. This some are represented as doing, with an 
uncommon degree of presumption, and with a scoff; for they are termed ' scoffers, 

X Psal. xcix. 8. y Psal. cxxx. 3. z 2 Sam. iii. 39. a Nahum i. 3. 


walking after their own lusts ; sajing. Where is the promise of his coming? for since 
the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as tliej were, from the beginning of the 
creation.''' Again, God's patience is abused by those who take occasion from it to 
sin presumptuously ; and who, because he not only delays to punish, but, at the 
same time, expresses his willingness to receive returning sinners at what time 
soever they truly repent, become emboldened to persist in their rebellion, conclud- 
ing that it is time enough to submit to him. This is not only to abuse, but, as it 
were, to wear out his patience : it is to provoke his indignation, like them of whom 
it is said, that ' because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, 
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.'"' lint you 
will say, " These are uncommon degrees of wickedness, which only the vilest 
part of mankind are chargeable with." We add, therefore, that a bare neglect to 
improve our present season and day of grace, or to embrace the great salvation 
offered in the gospel, is an abuse of God's patience. This will certainly affect the 
greatest number of those who are favoured with the gospel-dispensation. Indeed, 
who are they that improve it as they ought ? All therefore are said, more or less, 
to abuse the patience of God, — a consideration which affords matter of great hu- 
miliation in his sight. Now, that we may be duly sensible of this sin, together 
with the consequences of it, let us consider that it argues the highest ingratitude, 
— especially, in a professing people. The apostle, when reproving the Jews for 
this sin, puts a very great emphasis on every word when he says, ' Or despisest 
thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering?'*^ Let us 
consider, also, that the consequence of this sin is very destructive ; inasmuch as 
the opportunity afforded us by the divine patience is the only one which we can 
ever enjoy for seeking after those things which relate to our eternal welfare. What 
stress does the apostle lay on the word 'now,' which is twice repeated, as well as 
on the word 'behold,' which notes that he had something remarkable to communi- 
cate, when he says, ' Behold, now is the accepted time ; behold, now is the day of 
salvation. '« Another consideration, and a very awakening one, is, that the abuse of 
God's patience will expose finally impenitent sinners to a greater degree of his 
vengeance. When the forbearance of God had been extended to Israel for many 
years, from his bringing them up out of the land of Egypt, and the exercise of it 
had been attended all that time with the means of grace, and many warnings of 
approaching judgments, he tells them, ' You only have I known, of all the families 
of the earth ; therefore will I punish you,' that is, my wrath shall fall more heavily 
upon you, ' for all your iniquities.'^ And when God is represented, as coming to 
reckon with Babylon, the cup of his wrath, it is said, must be filled double. ' How 
much she hath glorified herself,' saith God, 'and lived deliciously, so much sorrow 
and torment give her ; for she saith in her heart, I sit as a queen, and am no 
widow, and shall see no sorrow. '^ 

Let us, on the other hand, improve God's patience, by duly considering the 
great end and design of it, and what encouragement it aff'ords to universal holiness. 
It is a great relief to those who are at the very brink of despair ; for if, apprehend- 
ing themselves to be yet in a state of unregeneracy, they cannot say that it has 
hitherto led them to repentance, let them consider that a door of hope is still open, 
and that the golden sceptre is held forth, the invitation given to come to Christ. 
Let this consideration excite us to a diligent attendance on the means of grace ; 
for though forbearance is not to be mistaken, as it is by many, for forgiveness, yet 
we are encouraged to wait and hope for it, in all God's holy institutions, accord- 
ing to the tenor of the gospel. And they who are not only spared but pardoned, 
to whom grace has not only been offered but savingly applied, may be encouraged to 
hope for farther displays of grace, as well as to improve, with the greatest dili- 
gence and thankfulness, what they have received. 

Finally, Let us consider the great obligation we are laid under, by the patience 
of God, to a constant exercise of the grace of patience, in our behaviour towards 
God and man. We are laid under the highest engagements by it to submit to 

b 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4. c Eccl. viii. 11. ,] Rom. ii. 4. 

e 2 Cor. vi. 2. f Amos iii. 2. g liev. xviii. 6, 7. 


God's disposing will, and, in whatever state we are, therewith to be content, with- 
out murmurino-, or repining, when under afflictive providences. ' Shall we receive 
good at his hand, and shall we not receive eviU'^' Has he exercised so long for- 
bearance towards us, not onlj before we were converted, when our life was a con- 
stant course of rebellion against him ; but has he since, not only passed by, but 
forgiven, innumerable oifences — and shall we think it strange when he testifies his 
displeasure against us in any instances ? Shall we be froward and uneasy, because 
he does not immediately give us what we desire, or deliver us from those evils we 
groan under ? Let us exercise patience, also, in our behaviour towards men. Shall 
we give way to, or express unbecoming resentment against those whom we con- 
verse with, for injuries done us, which are often rather imaginary than real? Or 
if they are very great, as well as undeserved, let not our passions exceed their due 
bounds ; much more, let us not meditate revenge, but consider how many injuries 
the great God has passed over in us, and how long his patience has been extended 
towards us. 

The Faithfulness of God. 

God is abundant in truth. That we may understand what is meant by this per- 
fection, we may observe the difference between his being called a true God, and a 
God of truth ; though they seem to import the same thing, and are not always 
distinguished in scripture. Thus he that receiveth Christ's testimony, is said to 
' set to his seal that God is true,' that is, that he is a God of truth, in accomplish- 
ing what he has promised respecting the salvation of his people ; and elsewhere it 
is said, ' Let God be true, but every man a liar,' that is, let God be esteemed a 
God of truth. Yet his Ibeing the true God, and his being the God of truth, are, 
for the most part, distinguished. Hence when he is called the true God, or the 
only true God, the phrase does not denote one distinct perfection of the divine 
nature, but the Godhead ; and it includes all his divine perfections, and represents 
him in contrast to all others who are called gods, but are not so by nature. This 
point, however, will be more particularly considered in the next Answer. When, 
on the other hand, we speak of him as the God of truth, we mean that he is true 
to his word, — a God that cannot lie, — whose faithfulness is unblemished, because, 
as a God of infinite holiness, whatever he has spoken, he will certainly bring to 
pass. This perfection respects either his threatenings, or his promises. As to the 
former, it is said that ' the judgments of God,' that is, the sentences he has passed 
against sinners, ' are according to truth ;'' and the display of his vindictive justice 
is called, ' his accomplishing his fury.''' This renders him the object of fear ; and 
it is, as it were, a wall of fire round about his law, to secure its glory from the in- 
sults of his enemies. As to his faithfulness in his promises, he is said to be ' the 
faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him, and keep 
his commandments, unto a thousand generations.'^ This is that which encourages 
his people to hope and trust in him, and to expect that blessedness which none of 
his perfections would give them a sufficient ground to lay claim to, were it not pro- 
mised, and the promises of it secured by his infinite faithfulness. Almighty power 
is able to give us happiness, and mercy and goodness can communicate every thing 
that may contribute to it ; but it does not follow that they will do so, since God is 
under no natural obligation to glorify these perfections. But when he is pleased 
to give us a promise of happiness, and the accomplishment of this is made sure to 
us by his. infinite faithfulness, the blessings we need become not only possible but 
certain, and strong consolation is afforded to the heirs of salvation. It is this that 
renders things future as certain as though they were present, and so lays a founda- 
tion for our rejoicing in hope of eternal life, whatever difficulties may seem to lie 
in the way. 

Here we may take occasion to consider the blessings which are secured by the 
faithlulness of God. Some of these respect mankind in general, or are bestowed 
in the ordinary course 6f divine providence, — such as that the world should be 

b Job ii. 10. i Rim. ii. 2. k Ez< k. vi. 12. 1 Dtut. vii. 9. 


preserved, and 'all flesh not perish out of it,' from the deluge till Christ's second 
coming, and that, during this time, the regular course of nature should not be 
altered; but ' that seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day 
and night, should not cease.'™ There are also promises made to the church in 
general, — such as that it should have a being in the world, notwithstanding all the 
shocks of persecution which it is exposed to, that the ordinances of divine worship 
should be continued, and that, ' in all places where he records his name, he will 
come to his people and bless them.'" He has promised also that his church shall 
be increased and built up, — that to Shiloh, the great Eedeemer, should the 'gather- 
ing of the people be,' — that he would ' multiply them that they should not be few, 
and also glorify them that they should not be small,'" — and that the glory should 
be of an increasing nature, especially that which it should arrive to in the latter 
ages of time, inwnediatcly before its exchanging this militant state for a triumphant 
one in heaven. Moreover, there are many great and precious promises made to parti- 
cular believers. These every one of them have a right to lay claim to ; and this they 
are often enabled to do by faith, which depends entirely on this perfection. These 
promises are such as respect the increase of grace, — that they shall ' go from 
strength to strength,' or that ' they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength,'? 
— that they shall be recovered after great backslidings,"! and be enabled to perse- 
vere in that grace which is begun in them, till it is crowned with complete victory ,"■ 
— that they shall be made partakers of that inward peace and joy which accompa- 
nies or flows from the truth of grace, ^ — and that all this shall be followed by per- 
fect blessedness in heaven at last.* The scripture abounds with such promises, 
suited to every condition, and fitted to afford relief to God's people under all the 
difficulties they meet with in tlie world ; and the accomplishment of them is made 
sure to them by the divine faithiulness. 

It is objected against this divine attribute, that God, in some instances, has not 
fulfilled his threatenings, which has tended to embolden some in a course of ob- 
stinacy and rebellion against him, — particularly that the first threatening was not 
executed as soon as man fell ; for though God told our first parents, that ' in the 
very day they should eat of the forbidden fruit, they should surely die,' yet Adam 
lived after this nine hundred and thirty years." It is also objected, that though 
God threatened to destroy Nineveh, within forty days after Jonah was sent to pub- 
lish this message to them,'' they continued in a flourishing state many years after. — 
As to what respects the first threatening, that death should immediately ensue upon 
sin being committed, we shall have occasion to speak on it in its proper place. ^ All 
that needs be replied to it at present is, that the threatening was, in some respect, 
executed the day, yea, the moment in which our first parents sinned. If we un- 
derstand it in a legal sense, they were immediately brought into a state of condem- 
nation ; which, in a forensic sense, is often called death. They were immediately 
sepai-ated from God, the fountain of blessedness, and plunged into all those depths 
of misery which were the consequence of their fall. Or if we understand ' death' 
to mean, what certainly was one ingredient in it, either the separation of soul and 
body, or the greatest degree of punishment, consisting in everlasting destruction 
from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, it is sufiicient to say, 
that man's being liable to it was the principal thing intended in the threatening. 
Certainly God did not design to tie up his own hands, so as to render it impossible 
for him to remit the offence, or to recover the fallen creature out of this deplorable 
state. If you take ' death ' lor that which is natural, which was not inflicted till 
nine hundred and thirty years after, we may say that his being on the very day 
that he sinned exposed to it, or brought under an unavoidable necessity of dying, 
might be called his dying from that time. The scripture will warrant our using 
the word in this sense ; for the apostle, speaking to those who were, by sin, liable 
to death, says, ' The body is dead because of sin,' ^ that is, it is exposed to death, 

m Gen. ix. II. compared with chap. viii. 22. n Exod. xx. 24. • o Gen. xlix. 10. compared 

with Jer. xxx. 19. p Psal. Ixxxiv. 7- "I'd Isa. xl. 31. q Psal. xxxvii. 24. Psal. Ixxxix. 3U S3. 

r 2 Cor. xii. 9. Rom. xvi. 20. Job xvii. 9. 1 Cor. xv. 57. s Isa. xl. 1. chap. Ivii. 19 chap, xxxii. 17. 
t Psal. Ixxiii. 24. 2 Tim. iv. S. u (jcii, ii. 17. compared with chap. v. 3. x Jon. iii. 4. 

> See Quest. x\. z Rom. viii. lU. 


as the consequence of^in, though it was not actually dead. And if we take death 
for a liability to eternal destruction, the threatening must be supposed to contain 
a tacit condition implying that man was to expect nothing but eternal death, un- 
less some expedient were found out which the miserable creature then knew nothin"- 
of, to recover him from the state into which he was fallen. — As to what concerns 
the sparing of Nineveh, we have sufficient ground to conclude that there was a 
condition annexed to the threatening that it should be destroyed. The meaning 
therefore, is, that they should be destroyed in forty days, if they did not repent. 
This condition was designed to be made known to them; otlierwise Jonah's preach- 
ing would have been to no purpose, and the warning given would have answered 
no valuable end. It is plain, too, that the Ninevites understood the matter in this 
sense ; otherwise there would have been no room for repentance. God, therefore, 
connected the condition with the threatening. And as, on the one hand, he de- 
signed to give them repentance, — so that the event was not dubious and undeter- 
mined by him, as depending on their conduct, abstracted from his providence ; so, 
on the other hand, there was no reflection cast on his truth, — because the provi- 
sionary expedient for their deliverance was as much known by them as the threat- 
ening itself. 

It is objected that several, promises havenot had their accomplishment. Thusthere 
are several promises of spiritual blessings which many believers do not experience 
the accomplishment of in this life, — a circumstance which has given occasion to 
some to say with the psalmist, 'Doth his. promise fail for evermore? '^ All the 
promises of God are not literally fulfilled in this world to every particular believer. 
The promise of increase of grace is not actually fulfilled, while God suffers his 
people to backslide from him, and while the work of grace is rather declining than 
sensibly advancing. Nor are the promises respecting the assurance and joy of 
faith fulfilled to one that is sinking into the depths of despair, — or those that re- 
spect the presence of God in ordinances, to such as are destitute of the influences 
of his grace in observing them,' — or those of victory over temptation, to such as are 
not only assaulted but ft-equently overcome by Satan, when it is as much as they 
can do to stand their ground against him. There are also many other instances of 
a similiar nature. Notwithstanding all these, however, the faithfulness of God 
may be vindicated, if we consider, that there is no promise of wliich there are not 
some instances of accomplishment. This fact is a sufficient evidence to the world, 
that there are such blessings bestowed as God has promised. Those, again, who 
are denied these blessings, may possibly be mistaken when they conclude them- 
selves to be believers ; and then it is no wonder that they are destitute of them, 
for God has promised to give joy and peace only in a way of believing, or to give 
first the truth of grace, and then its comfortable fruits and eff'ects. But we will 
suppose that they are not mistaken, but have experienced the grace of God in truth, 
and then j;heir graces are so defective that they know but little of their own imper- 
fections, if they do not take occasion from a consciousness of these to justify God for 
withholding his blessings from them, and to adore, rather than call in question, the 
equity of his proceeding. If remunerative justice be not laid under obligation to 
bestow these blessings by any thing performed by us, then certainly the faithful- 
ness of God is not to be impeached because he is pleased to deny them. Again, in 
denying these blessings, he often takes occasion to advance his own glory in some 
other way : he tries the faith and patience of his people, corrects them for their 
miscarriages, humbles them by his dealings with them, and overrules all events 
for their good in the end, — which is an equivalent for those joys and comforts which 
are withheld. Indeed, God has never promised these blessings to any, but with 
this reserve, that if he thinks it necessary for his own glory and their good, to bring 
about their salvation some other way, he will do it ; so that, when he does so, not 
the least occasion is given to detract from the glory of his faithfulness. All those 
promises, moreover, which have not had their accomplishment in kind, in this world, 
shall be accomplished in the next, with the greatest advantage. Believers will 
then liave no reason to complain of even the least unfaithfulness in the divine ad- 

a Psal. Ixxvii. 8. 


ministration. If rivers of pleasure at God's right hand for t;ver, will not compen- 
sate for the want of some comforts while we are in this world, or silence all ohjec- 
tions against his present dealings with men, nothing can do it; or if the full accom- 
plishment of all the promises hereafter will not secure the glory of God's faith- 
fulness, it is a sign that men who deny it are disposed to contend with the Almighty. 
To such, therefore, we may justly apply God's own words to Job, ' He that reprov- 
eth God, let him answer it.' ' Wilt thou disannul my judgment? Wilt thou con- 
demn me, that thou mayest be righteous? '^ 

We shall now consider how the faithfulness of God ought to be improved by us. 
The consideration of it may be a preservative against presumption, on the one hand, 
and despair, on the other. Let no one harden himself in his iniquity, or think that, 
because the threatenings are not yet iully accomplished, they never shall. It is one 
thing for God to delay to execute them, and another thing for him to resolve not to 
do it. Be(;ause ' our houses are safe from fear, and the rod of God is not upon them,' 
we may vainly conclude that 'the bitterness of death is past;' but let it be consid- 
ered, that ' the wicked are reserved for the day of destruction, — that they shall be 
brought forth to the day of wrath. '"^ The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 
His threatenings lay him under an obligation to punish finally impenitent sinners ; 
because he is a God of truth. Let none therefore harden themselves against him, 
or expect impunity in a course of open rebellion against him. On the other hand, 
let not believers give way to despair of obtaining mercy, or conclude that, because 
God is withdrawn, and hides his face from them, he will never return, or that be- 
cause his promises are not immediately fulfilled, they never shall. His faithfulness 
is their great security. ' He will ever be mindful of his covenant.'"^ 

Again, Let us compare the providences of God with his word, and see how every 
thing tends to set forth his faithfulness. We are very stupid, if we take no notice 
of the great things which are done in the world ; and we behold them to little pur- 
pose, if we do not observe how this divine perfection is glorified in them. The 
world continues to this day, because God has several things yet to do in it, in pur- 
suance of his promises. The whole number of the elect are to be gathered, and 
brought in to Christ ; their graces must be tried, and their faith built up in 
the same way as it has been in former ages. The church, in consequence, is pre- 
served ; and, according to his promise, ' the gates of hell have not prevailed against 
it.'^ As it was of old, so we observe now, that the various changes which are made 
in civil atfairs are all rendered subservient to the church's welfare. ' The earth 
helps the woman, '*^ — not so much from its own design, as by the appointment of pro- 
vidence. And why does God order it so, but that his promises might be fulfilled ? 
The continuance of his ordinances, and the efficacy and success of them in the ex- 
perience of believers, as the consequence of his presence with them, which he has 
given them ground to expect ' unto the end of the world, '^ are blessings in which 
his faithfulness is eminently glorified. 

Further, This divine perfection is a sure foundation for our faith. As his truth, 
with respect to what he has revealed, is an iniallible ground for our faith of assent ; 
60 his faithfulness, in fulfilling his promises, affords the highest encouragement for 
our trust and dependence on him. Hence we are said to ' commit the keeping of 
our souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator ; '^' and when we lay the 
whole stress of our salvation upon him, we have no reason to entertain any doubt 
about the issue. Moreover, ai-e we exposed to evils in this world ? We may con- 
clude, that as ' he has delivered, and does deliver,' so we have reason to ' trust in 
him, that he will deliver us. ' ' And is there much to be done for us, to make us 
meet for heaven ? We may be ' confident of this very thing, that he that has 
begun a good work in us, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.''' 

Again, The faithfulness of God should be improved by us, as a remedy against 
that uneasiness and anxiety of mind which we often have about the future, espe- 
cially when events seem to run counter to our expectation. When, for example, 

b Job xl. 'J. compared with vcr. 8. c Job xxi. 9. compared with ver. 30. d Psal. exi. 5. 

e Matt. xvi. 18. f Uev. xii. \6. g Matt, xxviii. 20. h 1 Pet. iv. 19. i 2 Cor. i. 10. 

k Pii)l. i. (J. 


there is but a very melancholy prospect before us, as to what concerns the glory of 
God and til e flourishing state of his church in the world, and we are ready to say 
with Joshua, ' Lord, what wilt thou do unto thy great name ?'^ or when we have 
many sad thoughts of heart about the rising generation, and are in doubt whether 
they will adhere to or abandon the interest of Christ ; when we are ready to fear 
whether there will be a reserve of faithful men, who will stand up for his gospel, 
and fill the places of those who are called off the stage, aftfer having served their 
genei'ation by the will of God ; when we are too much oppressed with cares 
about our outward condition in the world ; when, like Christ's disciples, we 
are immoderately thoughtful ' what we shall eat, what we shall drink, or wherewith 
we shall be clothed,'"' or how we shall be able to conflict with the difficulties that 
lie before us, — our great relief against all our solicitude is to be derived from the 
faithfulness of God. Since godliness has the promise annexed to it, of ' the life 
that now is,' as well as of ' that which is to come,'" this promise shall have its ac- 
complishment, so far as shall most redound to God's glory, and our real advantage. 
Finally, The consideration of the faithfulness of God should be improved, to 
humble us, and to fill us with shame and confusion of face, when we consider how 
treacherously we have dealt with him, — how unsteadfast we have been in his cove- 
nant, — how often we have broken our own promises and resolutions, that we would 
walk more closely with him, — how frequently we have backslidden Irom him, contrary 
to all the engagements which we have been laid under. Have we found any unfaith- 
fulness in him ? Has he, in the least instance, been worse than his word ? As God 
says, when he improves his people, ' What iniquity have your fathers found in me, 
that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain ?' ° 

1 Josh. vii. 9. m Matt. vi. 31. n 1 Tim. iv. 8, o Jer. ii. 5. 

[Note Z. The Communicable and the Incommunicable Perfections of God. — The distinction be- 
tween comniunicable and iiicominuuicable perfections ol Dtity, ought not to be made. All the divine 
peifectioiis are alike absolute, alike glorious, alike infinite, alike identical with divinity. They are 
not, as Dr. Ridgeley himseU attrrwards teaches, to be consiciered as apart from God, or as proper- 
ties ot the divine subsistence. God's perfections are God hiinselt, and God hiniselt' is his perfections. 
To snpi'ose some of them to be more and some of them less distinctive of Deity, or some to be 
comniunicable and some incommunicable, is to conceive of the divine subsistence abstractedly fiom 
itself, or to compare God with God. Mt-re ' resemblances' between the creature and the Creator do 
not lessen the distance between fimtude and infinitude. Holiness, power, and faithfulness, as they 
exist in Deity, are as truly infinite, as truly characttristic ot divinity, as though no resemblances of 
them were found in men an(i angels ; and, as divine perfections, are as strictly incommunicable, and 
as entirely remote from any properties of a creature, as immutability and independence. All re- 
semblances lietween what is infinite and what is finite are distant, analogical, and lemotely com- 
parative. If holiness be called a communicable perfection, because man was created a sinless 
being, immutability may as justly be called so, because the physical movements and agencies ot the 
universe were made uniform and uiivar_\ injj. Durability and unchangeableness are as muth illus- 
trated by the stability of the earth and of the ' everla.-ting hilis,' and the regularity of the seasons 
and of cliemical agencies, as holiness and truth are by the character impressed on Adam in creation. 
What some writers have termed distinctively the natural <ind the moral perfections of Goil, are 
displayed respectively in his natural and lii» moral works, and have produced in these jnst those 
remote resemblances whence we deiive our ideas of their nature. Hence any distinction \ihi(h is 
warrantable, has reference, not to the perfections themselves, but to the sphere in which they are 
displayed, and the effects which they produce. When we think of God as making woilds out of 
nothing, we speak of his power; when we think ot him as the source of all created being, we speak 
of his self-existence; when we think of him as sustaining universal nature, we speak of his mde- 
peinlence ; when we think of him as entertaining iinifoi m purposes, and as governing his creatures by 
uniform laws, we speak of his immutability ; when we think of him as opposing sin, as cieating 
minds imbued with love to his service, and as regeneraiing and sanctilung dt praved intelligences, 
we speak ot his holiness; when we think ol him as making promises, and invariably fulfilling them, 
or as tstablishing principles, and invariably verifving them, we speak of his faithfulness; and when 
we think of his (.claying to inflict punishment on transgressors, of his planning, reveal ng, and estab- 
lishing the (0\enant ot redemption, and ot his enlighiening the undeistandings, subduing the hostil- 
ity, reneuingthe wills, and captivating the affections of believers in Ciirist, we spi ak ot his patience, 
his merc\, and his grace. In all ot these cases, however — in each or any as truly as in others— 
— there IS simpl\ a display of his per:eciioiis. — a display of Deity. In none, is there a communica- 
tion oi his perfections : in none, tiie imparting of such a peculiar or cistinguisliing resembhince of 
himsell, as occasions or warranis an alisuact conception of one ol his iittiibutes from another. 
Ever> thing divine is essentially, or in its wry lature, incommunicable. 

'J'lie (.istiintion betwem cominuniciii le aid iiiciimmnnK able pi r cctions of Diit_\, like many 
other (.i>tin((i()iis intio<;uce<i b\ the seludiistic ihi i)l(if._\ , has iniured tbe simplicity of scripture iii- 
slrueULii, iiiiii iilfuii.ed emouiiigeincnt lo laiing »|iei niaiiun unn to luor. High Arianisui, in oar- 


ticular, avuils itself of it, to saiirtioii and defend its insidious and destructive dogma resperting the 
semi-divinity of Christ. But ht just views of the divine perfections be entertained, let tliem lie 
seen as essentially incoinmunical)l •, and ns just Deity liiinself, and all such speculations as those of 
Aiianisin will stand as stultified in the view of reason as they appear wicked in the eye of revelation. 
—Ed ] 

[NoTK 2 A. Connerion between Uncompouiidedness and Eternal Duration. — The argument for the 
future eternity of God from his being ' void of all compostion,' is based on false premises, and 
ou^ht not to he used. Tht dissolution of some heings, and the future eternal duration of others, 
does not, as Dr. Ridgeley assumes, depend on their being comijounded or not compounded of parts. 
Angels and the souls of men are ' void of composition.' and vet are not necessarily eternal. The 
duration, as truly as the oiigin and the sustenance, of their being, depends entirely on the divine 
will, and ari>es solely from the di\ine purpose. The glorified bodies of saints, on the other hand, 
will be compounded of parts, and yet will not be subject to dissolution, but will exist for ever. 
Even man's natural body, as it was originally created, possessed perfect adaptation to perpetuity 
of existence ; and not till doomed to corruptibility h\ the divine will in puinshment of sin, did it 
contain any seed or germ of dissolution. Dr. Ridgeley 's idea that 'dissolution arises from the con- 
trariety of the parts ' of compounded beings, ami from ' the tendency of these to destroy one another,' 
is utterly incompatible with the doctrine o( the divine sovereignty, with the penal nature of mor- 
tality ami corruptibility m man, anil with the redemptional and gracious character of the eternal 
exi>tence of the souls and bodies of the saved. His adoption of the idea, and the use which he 
makes o( it in raising an argument for the ttiture eterinty of God, are an illustration of how prone 
even so well toned aiui strong a mind as his is to eiT, when it wanders from the supreme guidance 
of revelation, and attempts to prove an abstract or elementary doctrine from what he terms 'the 
light of nature.' So obvious a truth as God's future eternity is peculiarly liable to be obscured, 
and rarelv receives elucidation, when attempted to be proved or illustrated by any but plain scrip- 
tural considerations. — Ed.] 

[Note 2 B. Omnipresence — Dr. Ridgeley, in this paragraph, distinguishes four kinds of omnipre- 
sence, — first, such as Paul had when he was at Corinth in spirit, while absent in body, — secondly, 
such as a king has, when he is in many places by his authority, — thiruly, such as matter has, when 
view ed as in all parts of the universe, — ami lastly, such as is proper and peculiar to Deity. Now these 
are so essentially different each from the others, that they ought to be all designated by different 
names, and treated as entirely distinct things. The first is metaphorical ubiquity ; the second is re- 
presentation ; the third is extension ; and only the last is omnipresence. Extension is a property of 
matter, and ought no more to be placed in the same category with a divine perfection, than cubicity, 
opacity, colour, or any other physical pi operty. Representation — especially the representation of a 
king in the person of viceroys and inferior magistrates — implies the necessary absence and even the 
personal ignorance of the iinlividual represented ; and, so far from possessing affinity or resemblance, 
it exhi'iits contrariety or contrast, to the divine perfection. Ubiquity, indeed, may lequire to be dis- 
tinguished from omniscience ; but as a literal property, it does not exist. What is denoted by it 
is the capacity of being in many place s at once ; and it is simply an invention of the schoolmen, 
applied to the gloiified hunmnity of Chiist. to obviate the physical diliiculties, or the physical impos- 
sibility, implied in their doctrine of transubstantiation. Metaphorical ubiquity, or the capacity of 
being in many places 'in spirit' or in imagination, is, 'as a phrase,' only a remote accommodation of the 
scholastic invention; lor even it does not imply the capacity of thinking of many places at once, but 
the capacity ot thinking of many places, or of imaginarily visiting thi m, in rapid succession. Words 
and ideas are only obscured and confounded, when extension, representation, and metaphorical ubi- 
quity, are (ilaced in the same connexion, and classed under the same generic epithet as divine omni- 

Dr. Ridgeley, in the paragraph which follows, makes another distinction, which, though not so 
grotesque and mischievous as this, is at least unnecessary, and ought therefoie to be avoided. He 
distinguishes between the essential and the influential presence o( God; and again distributes the 
influential presence into cumuion and special. Now the essential presence of God is just his omni- 
presence. Why, then, depart from that designation, and introduce another? Can any reason be 

assigiiid, excipt that an opportunity is sought to flourish a distuution, — to exhibit an antithesis, 

to attract the ear with the alliterative jingle 'essential jiresence,' 'influential presence?' Better 
phrases, liecaiise more scriptural, may be tonnd, too, to denote what is meant by 'the common' and 
'the speeial' presence ot God. If by God's common presence is meant, as Dr. Ridgeley says, 
'that by which he upholds and governs all things,' its proper name is either power or providence. 
' Special presence,' though not seriously objectionable, would be advantaijeously substituted by 

'gracious presence.' Either let it be retained, ho>^ever, and let Dr. Ridgeley's other distinctions 

or rather the scholastic distinctions which he adopts — be exploded; and there will remain onlv two 
phrases of kindred character. — 'special presence,' and 'omnipresence;' while other terms will be 
used — 'providence,' 'ubiquity,' 'representation,' and 'extension' — as distinct from one another, 
and fiom the word 'omnipresence,' as the ideas which they respectively express. How preferable 
is a terminology which possesses a distinct word for ever) distinct idea, to one which clusters under 
the same epithet the most various, or even contrary conceptions, and creates occasion for ostenta- 
tious and bewildering distinctions ! On all subjects, indeed, such a terminology does not exist; 
but whenever, as on the subjects clustered under the head of omnipresence, it is sanctioned by 
scripture, and virtually presented in its simple phraseology, it ought to be followed and cherished 
as no nil an expositor of revealed truths — Ed.] 

Note 2 C. T/ie Absolute and the Ordinate Power of God. — The distinction between absolute and 
ordinate power is founded on a meiapliysical view ot the human mind. Man's will is determined 
by motives. He has the power of aeting in one of two, or in any of several ways; and he acts in 


on! V one of them, according to the determination of his will. His power, view ed irrespectively of liis 
will, is called absolute ; and. viewed as d-termined or defined by it, is called ordinate. But c ui the 
same distinction be with propriety made in reference to God ? Man's motives, or those quahties in 
otijects, considerations, or inducements, which determine his will, and defiuii the exerci'^e ot his 
power, are all exterior to himself. His will is dependent and relative : it is swayed by objects and 
influences which come unbidden before him. and acts, not absolutely, as if he stood alone and inde- 
pendent, but in relation to the circumstances in which he is placed by supreme sovereign disposal. 
God's will, on the contrary, is strictly absolute: it is his ' mere good pleasure,' — the counsel of his 
own will:' it acts, as to motive, in sell-existent and supreme independence. God. and his will, and 
his power, and his glory, are phrases expressive, not of distinct things, but of different modes of 
contemplating Deity. His power, view it as we may, is co-extensive with his will and his glory : it 
is power to do whatever he wills, or whatever comports with his holiness and wisdom. He wills 
whatever his pouer performs; and his power performs whatever his will determines. Contemplated 
either as resolving, or as a(,-ting, or as displaying any one perfection, he is supreme, infinite, inde- 
pendent, incomprehensible, the same in character, the same in subsistence, the same in essential 
manifestation. Caution, therefore, ought to be used not to raise a distinction whi(h suggests any 
such idea, in our views of Deity, as that of 'ordinate power' in man, — of a limitation or 
defining of abilit> by volitions dependent on exterior motives. Whatever is proper or peculiar to 
the creature, must not, by any analogy, be made the basis of a distinction with reference to the 
Creator. The instance adduced by Dr. Ridgeley in illustration of his distinction — the divine 
economy with regard to the fallen angels — ought to be viewed in connexion, not with God's power, 
but with the character or glory of his moral administration. — Ed.] 

[Note 2D. The Objects of God's Knowledye ' As intelligent agents, we know, in many instances, 

what things we can do, though we wilj never do them.' Does Dr. Ridgeley, by this statement, 
mean that we know what things we have resolved not to do, — that we know what things we have 
power but not inclination to do, — or that we know contingently efTects of our power which may 
be prevented by our will? His words may be construed to bear any of the three meanings; and, 
whichever of the three they bear, they fail to sanction or illustrate his position in reference to the 
objects of God's knowledge. To know what things we have resolved not to do, is only negatively 
to know what things we have resolved to do : it is to know actual objects or events in the light of 
their opposites; for there is no knowledge, no idea of an absolute notuntity or negation. To knowr 
what things we have power but not inclination to do, is simply to know, in any given circumstances, 
that we are dependent creatures, influenced by motives, and that, in the exercise of freedom to 
adopt any of several modes of acting, we are restricted to one by the determination of our will. Again, 
to know contingently effects of our power which may be prevented b) our will, or to know things 
as contingently existing, is simply either to conjecture what shall happen or exist, or to substitute 
fiction for reality, imagination for discernment. Now, in none of these three ways u hich have 
been named is there any affinity between man's ' knowing what things he can do, though he will 
never do them,' and God's 'knowing many things that he will not do.' Knowledge, on God's 
part, of what he has purposed not to do, is either knowledge of nonentities, or knowledge, nega- 
tively considered, of what he has proposed to do. But knowledge of nonentities is no knowledge 
whatever, and is not to be predicated of God. Again, knowledge of several mo<ies of action, one 
of which must be adopted to the exclusion of the others, aeeoniing to the determination ot the will 
by motives, is predicableonlv of a dependent being, the circumstances of whose position are disposed 
and controlled by a superior power. As to knowing things contingently, in the sense either of con- 
jecture or of imagination, so far from being predicable of God, it exhibits a direct contrast to the 
infallible certainty of his knowledge. Dr. Ridgeley, in all he says respecting 'God's knowing many 
things that he will not do,' seems to forget the essential difference which exists between the will of God 
ana the will of man. Possibility and contingency, in reference to what may or can be done, are ideas 
which aflfect only the imperfect, dependent, finite knowledge of the creature. What can exist, 
what shall exist, and what are objects of knowledge, are all the same thing with God. His power 
to do, his purpose to do, and his knowledge of what he will do, are strictly one thing viewed in 
different phases. His knowledge, his will, and his power, are matters of distinct conception only 
in accommodation to the capacities of the creature; they are not distinct in themselves, nor are 
they distinct from God. All are different from the corresponding attributes of the creature, not 
only in degree, but in essential nature. Man's power is derived and contingent; his will is de- 
pendent and relative ; his knowledge is exoteric in its sources and evidential in its basis. To say 
that ' he knows many things which he can do, though he will never do them,' is consistent with 
the imperfection of his nature ; but to say the same thing of God seems derogatory to his independ- 
ence, and to the undividedness of his attributes. 

Dr. Ridgeley 's appeal in support of his sentiment to scripture, appears to be far from successful. 
God's ' calling things that be not as though they were,' is simply his creating something out of 
nothing, — his acting with the same power without materials as with them. His knowledge re- 
specting Saul and the men of Keilah, was not knowledge of ' what they would have done, had not 
his providence prevented it,' but knowledge of the secret and vain purposes of their hearts : in other 
words, it was not knowledge of events as contingent, but absolute knowledge of actual and m~ 
effective intentions. — Ed.] 

[Note 2 E. Man's natural knoivledye of God To say that God has ' instamped the knowledge of 

his perfections on the souls and consciences of men,' savours strongly of the doctrine of innate 
ideas. Are men born with a knowledge of God's perfections? Have they it constitutionally 'in- 
stamped' on their minds? It so, they are bom with a revelation, — they have constitutionally an 
acquiiintance with the divine justice, the divine patience, the divine mercy, the divine graee, and, 
by consequence, the divine method of saving the gnilty. An innate revelation, a lOiistitutioiial 'in- 


stamping' of religious kno« ledge, mu<t either be so defective ns to be iiselrss, or iiieliide all the 
elements of divine truth. But where is the evidence from consciousness, ol)ser\anon, or the testi- 
mony ot scripture, that, even in one particular such a levelation or instamping is possessed ? Do 
not universal experience, universal history, the condition even ot man in p.iradise, the principles of 
all God's moral administration iti our «orl(!, and the existence and [irogressive grant of a written re- 
vehttion, expressly and forcibly contradict it? 

The (Jentiles ' «ho have not the law doing by nature the things contained in the law, and being 
a law unto themselves,' proves only that they had consciences; just as Red Indians' acquaintance 
with sounds and colours, tliough they aie destitute of science, and their ability to reason, though desti- 
tute of formal logic and mathematics, prove that they have the faculties o( perception and judgment. 
Man is born with a power of perception; and, as his mind expands, he finds himself possessed of 
organs ami exterior lacilities for acquiring ideas. He is born with a pouer of judj;ing; and, as his 
mind expands, he enjo}s constant occasion to detect relations among objects, and to form opinions. 
He is born wiih a power of distinguishing between right and wrong; and as ins nnnd expands, he 
has access to continual lessons, practical and theoretic, tor obtaining moral |>erceptions. Onl) his 
powers, however, are innate: the objects of them are exoteric, and the n)aierials with whirli they 
work are acquired. Just as he is not born with ideas of to.vns and landscapes, or with opinions of 
cookery arid the chase ; so is he not born with a knoulecige ot God ami of duty. Yet as certainly 
as his faculty of perception is addressed by sounds and colours, and his faculty oi judging hv the 
collisions or juxtaposition or chemical influences of objects, so certainly is his faculty of moral dis- 
cernment — his power of knowing right from wrong — his conscience — addressed immediately, pre- 
ceptively, or traditionarily by revelation. Heathens, even in their darkest state, enjoy some rem- 
nants of teaching from heaven. All educationally acquire some perceptions of riglil ami wrong, — 
some remote discernment of religious obligation and moral duty. All, in the absence of ' the la>v ' 
— 'the law of Moses,' a written revelation — 'are a lav unto themselves;' and though they are 
' natuial men,' though they are still in the state of ' nature ' peculiar to the children ot wrath, they 
do ' by nature the things,' some things, * contained in the law.' Who does not see, however, that 
the state of 'nature' in which they are a law unto themselves, is the state not of their constitu- 
tional structure, not of their birth, not ot their foetus or suckling condition, liut of their unregen- 
erac\, their alienation from the life of God, their destitution of spirituality ami ot a written reve- 
lation?— Ed.] 

[Note 2 F. The disposing, the vindictive, and the remunerative Justice of God. — The scholastic dis- 
tinctions, w hich Dr. Ridgeley adopts, between the disposing and the distributive, and again between 
the vindictive and the remunerative, justice of God, tend, not to illustrate, but to obscure a sub- 
ject of great simplicity. The divine justice, view it as we may, is simply infinite rectitude, in- 
fallible equity, God doing what is right. To speak of his 'disposing justice,' and define it to be 
' the shining forth of his holiness in all the dispensations ot his providence,' is just to give a general 
and not very appropriate name to the mingled exercise of the divine wisdom, itie divine mercy, the 
divine grace, and what is called the divine vindictive and remunerative justice. Contusion of ideas 
is the sure and only result. The rectitude or equity of God's moral administration, is a notion 
which fully contains and clearly exhibits whatever is alluded to by distinctions as to his justice. 
His dispensations in chastising or punishing for sin. are simply his equity in leference to liis law; 
his dispensations in allotting men's external condition in the world, are simply his equity in refer- 
ence to his sovereign good pleasure ; and his dispensations in bestowing the blessings of salvation 
and etemal glory on believers in Jesus, are simply his equity in reference to the substitutionary and 
redemptional sufferings of Christ. He is just in punishing sin, because he inflicts only what is de- 
served; he is just in allotting to men various conditions in life, because he bestows on all unde- 
served kindness, and withholds from none any merited favour; and he is just in delivering believers 
from the curse and raising them to blessedness, because Christ became a curse in their stead, and 
Las united himself to them as a source of unending lite and glory. In all of the dispensations, jus- 
tice is simply equity, rectitude, doing what is right and hoi). — Ed.] 

[Note '2 G. The Harmony of the Divine Perfections. — In the preceding paragraph, and in other 
passages, Dr. Ridgeley uses language respecting the distinguishableness ot the divine perfections 
which is incautious. To say, as he does, that ' the glory of divine patience is as necessary to be 
displayed as that of any of the other divine perfections,' suggests to the mind a notion that the per- 
fections are distinct not only from Deity but even from one another. Such a notion, it is true, is 
not intended to be conveyed; _\et phraseology which suggests it ought, as carefully as possible, to 
be avoided. The very phrase, 'harmony of the divine perfections' — so approved, so common, so 
popular among theologians — ought either to be discarded, or to be carefully defined. In a literal, 
or in a strictly analogical sense, it is utterly objectionable. What is meant by it is the pertect, 
the infallible consistency, of the divine actings or modes of manifestation. If, for illustrating this, 
the various actings or modes of manifestation are compared, we shall hud it safe, instead of using a 
metaphor not sanctioned by scripture, to adopt the beautiful images of the inspired penman : 'Jus- 
tice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy lace. 
Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy 
countenance ; in thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be ex- 
alted.' (Ps. Ixxxix. 14, 15.) 'Mercy and truth are met together ; righteousness and peace have 
kissed each other ; truth shall spring out of the earth ; and righteousness shall look down from 
heaven ; yea, the Lord shall give that which is good, and our land shall yield her increase; righte- 
O'lsness snail go before him, and shall set us in tlie way of his steps.' (l*s. Ixxxv. 11 — 13.) The 
iiieiaphors employed in these texts possess a significaiicy and an appropriateness which cannot tie 
lounu ill any of man's devising. They appear to allude to the visible and peculiar manifestations 
ot Deity in connexion with the Old Covenant, and particularly to the bhechinali or cloud ot the 


divine glory in the Holy of Holies. The 'throne' of the Shechinah was over the ark of the cove- 
nant, containing the tables of the law, the records of 'justice and judgment.' The oracles of the 
Urim and Thuinmiin, and tiie tokens of acceptance of sacrifice and complacency in the people — or 
'truth and mercy,' — went forth or forward from the Shechinah toward the priest or congregiition 
who were waiting without. The mirjistration of sacrifice was upward, from the court of the 
tabernacle, the sjmbol of 'the earth,' to the Holiest of all, the symbol of heaven ; and both the 
oracles of the Urim and Thummim and the manife^ted tokens of accepting sacrifice ami blessing the 
people, were from the Holiest of all toward the outer sanctuary ; and thus an emblem was afforded 
of ' truth springing out of the eaith ' in our Lord's ministrations on earth, and of righteousness looking 
down from heaven, in his appearing for his people in the heavenly places to give them repentance 
an<i remission of sins, and sending the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth, and perform in them 
the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith with power. There is hence, in the meta- 
phors in question, an instructive significancy which has no counterpart in such phraseology as that 
employed by Dr. Ridgeley. — Ed.] » 


Question VIII. Are there more Gods than one t 
Answer, There is but one only, the living and true God. 

Tlie Supremacy of God. 

In this answer, God is described as the living and true God. Life is the greatest 
excellency belonging to the nature of any finite being. Some have concluded that 
the lowest degree of it renders a creature more excellent in itself, than the most 
glorious creatures that are without it. Intelligent creatures, in the same way, 
have a superior excellency to all others ; because that which gives life to them, or 
the principle by which, as such, they act, is most excellent. So the life of God is 
that whereby he infinitely excels all finite beings. When, therefore, he is called 
the living God, the phrase does not denote one single perfection of the divine 
nature, but is expressive of all his divine perfections. Accordingly, when God re- 
presents himself, in scripture, as giving his people the highest assurance of any 
thing which he designs to do, and as using the form of an oath, and swearing by his 
life, ' As I live,' or ' As truly as I live,'P the language imports the same thing, as 
when he says, ' By myself have I sworn. 'i Hence, when he is called the living God, 
his gloi'y is set forth as a God of infinite perfection. This, however, has been con- 
sidered under the last answer. 

We may farther observe, that when God is styled the living God, the phrase 
denotes the display of all his perfections, in connection with life being a principle 
of action. Hereby he is distinguished from lifeless idols, who were reputed gods 
by their stupid and profane worshippers. The apostle lays down the terms as an- 
tithetic, when he speaks to some, as having 'turned from idols,' or false gods, 
' to serve the living and true God.'*" Here we might consider the origin and pro- 
gress of idolatry. Men were inclined to ' worship the creature more than the 
Creator,'^ or ' to do service to them who by nature are no gods.'*^ Some seemed to 
have been destitute of common sense, as they were of true religion, when they 
not only worshipped God by idols of their own making, but prayed to them, and 
said, ' Deliver us, for ye are our gods.' This the prophet takes notice of;" and he 
exposes their unaccountable stupidity, observing to them that these gods were first 
growing among the trees of the forest, then cut down with their own hands, and 
fashioned into their designed form, and part of them cast into the fire, as destined 
for common uses. These were literally lifeless gods ; and their senseless worship- 
pers were but one remove from them : ' They that make them, ' says the psalmist, 
' are like unto them, and so is every one that trusteth in them.'^ But this subject 
we shall have occasion to insist on in a following part of this work,^ and therefore 
shall pass it over at present, and consider, 

p Isa. xlix. 18. and Numb. xiv. 21. q Gen. xxii. 16. r 1 Thess. i. 9. s Rom. i. 25. 

c Gal. iv. 8. u Isa. xliv. 17. x Psal. ex v. 8. y See Quest, cv. 


The Unity of God. 

Scripture is very express in asserting the unity of the Godhead. It is said, 
' The Lord our God is one Lord ;'^ and ' I, even I, am he ; and there is no God 
with me ;'" and ' The Lord, he is God ; there is none else besides him ;'^ and else- 
where, ' Thou art God alone.''' This truth is not founded merely on a few places 
of scripture which expressly assert it, but may be deduced from every part of it. 
Yea, it is instamped on the very nature of man, and may be as plainly proved from 
the light of nature, as that there is a God. Every one of the divine perfections, which 
were particularly considered under the last answer, will supply us with arguments 
to confirm our faith in it. But that this may farther appear, let it be considered, 

1. That the idea of a God implies, that he is the first cause of all things. In this 
respect he is opposed to the creature, and existed from all eternity. Now there 
can be no more than one being, who is without beginning, and who gave being 
to all other things. This appears from the very nature of the thing ; for if there 
are more gods, then they must derive their being from him, — and then tliey are a 
part of his creation, and consequently not gods, for God and the creature are in- 
finitely opposed to each other. There is but one independent being, who is in and 
of himself, and derives his perfections from no other ; and therefore there can be 
but one God. 

2. Thei'e is but one Being, who is the ultimate end of all things. This neces- 
sarily follows from his being their Creator. He that produced them out of nothing, 
must be supposed to have designed some valuable end by doing so ; and this, ulti- 
mately considered, cannot be anything short of himself, for that is inconsistent with 
the wisdom and sovereignty included in the idea of a Creator. Accordingly, he is 
said to have ' made all things for himself.'^ Hence the glory which results from 
creation is unalienable, and cannot be ascribed to any but himself. To suppose 
therefore that there are other gods, is to ascribe a divine nature to them, divested 
of that glory which is essential to it. We may add, that if God is the ultimate 
end of all things, he is to be glorified as such ; and all worship is to terminate in 
him ; and we must proclaim him to be our chief good and only portion and happi- 
ness, — consequences which are plainly inconsistent with a plurality of gods. Be- 
sides, he that is the object of adoration must be worshipped, and loved with all our 
heart, soul, strength, and mind.® Our affections must not be divided between 
him and any other. And since man is under a natural obligation to give supreme 
worship to him, it follows that there is no other god that has a right to it, and that 
he is the only true God. 

3. Infinitude of perfection being implied in the idea of a God, as has been proved 
under the last answer, it is certain that it cannot belong to more than one. As it 
implies that divine perfection is boundless, so it denotes that he sets bounds to the 
perfections of all others. If, therefore, there are more gods than one, their perfec- 
tions must be limited ; but that which is not infinite, is not God. And as infinite 
perfection implies in it all perfection, it cannot be divided among many ; for no be- 
ing that has only a part of it, could be said to be infinitely perfect. And since there 
is but one who is so, it follows that there is no other God besides him. 

4. Since omnipotence is a divine attribute, there can be but one almighty being, 
and therefore but one God. This will farther appear, if we consider, that if there 
were more gods than one, all of them must be said to be able to do all things ; 
and then the same individual power which is exerted by one, must be exerted by 
another, — an idea, than which nothing is more absurd. It will also follow, that he 
who cannot do that which is said to be done by another, is not almighty, or able 
to do all things, and consequently tliat lie is not God. 

5. There is but one being who has an absolute sovereign will, — who, though he 
can control all others, is himself subject to no control, — who has a natural right to 
give laws to all who are his subjects, but is subject to none himself; for absolute 

z Deut. vi. 4 a Oliap. xxxii. 39. b Chap. iv. 33. 

c Psal. Ixxxvi. 10. (1 frov. xvi. 4. e Luke x. 27. 


dominion and subjection are as opposite as light and darkness. Two persons may 
as well be said to give being to each other, as to have a right to give laws to each 
other. Moreover, if there were more Gods than one, there would be a confusion 
in the government of the world ; for whatever one decrees, another may reverse ; 
or whatever is done by one, the contrary might be done by the other. This would 
follow from a sovereignty of will. And as there might be opposite things com- 
manded or forbidden, pursuant to the different wills of a plurality of gods ; so the 
same thing, with respect to those who are under an obligation to yield obedience, 
would be both a sin and a duty, and the same persons would be both condemned 
and justified for the same action. [See Note 2 H, page 133.] 

6. There is but one being who is, as God is often said to be, the best and the great- 
est. If there were more Gods than one, either one must be supposed to be more 
excellent than, another, or both equally excellent. If we suppose the former of 
these, then he who is not the most excellent, is not God ; and if the latter, that 
their excellencies are equal, then infinite perfection would be divided. But this, 
as was before hinted, is contrary to the idea of infinite perfection : it is contrary 
also to what is expressly said by God, ' To whom will ye liken me, or shall I be 
equal? saith the Holy One.'*^ From these, and several other arguments to the 
same purpose, which miglit have been taken from every one of the divine attributes, 
and from all that essential and relative glory which belongs to him,, the unity of 
the divine essence appears, even to a demonstration. Indeed, to assert that there 
are more Gods than one, is, in eff'ect, to say that there is no God. So the apostle 
deems it, when he tells the church at Ephesus that, befoi*e thoir conversion, when 
they worshipped other Gods, ' they were without God in the world.' This implies 
as much as that they were ' atheists in the world, ' as the words may with pro- 
priety be rendered.^ 

Having considered the unity of the Godhead, not only as evinced from scripture, 
but as it may be demonstrated by the light of nature, it will be necessary that we 
obviate an objection that may be brought against this latter method of proving it. 
The objection is, that, if the unity of the Godhead might be known by the dictates 
of nature, or demonstrated by other arguments besides those which are matter of 
pure revelation, how comes it to pass that the heathen owned and worshipped a plurality 
of gods ? It was not one particular sect among them that did so ; but the abominable 
practice of polytheism universally obtained where revealed religion was not known. 
Though, therefore, the unity of God is an undoubted truth, it does not seem to be 
founded in the light of nature. Now, that the heathen did worship a plurality of 
gods, is beyond dispute, especially after idolatry had continued a few ages in the 
world, and so had extinguished those principles of revealed religion which mankind, 
before this, were favoured with. Yet it must be considered that, though the ignorant 
and unthinking multitude among them believed everything to be a god which the 
custom of the countries where they lived had induced them to pay divine adoration 
to, yet the wiser sort of them, however guilty of idolatry, by paying a kind of lower 
worship to idols, maintained, notwithstanding, the unity of the Godhead, or that 
there is one God superior to them all, whom they often called "the Father of gods 
and men." It was probably to this supreme Deity that the Athenians erected 
that altar on which the apostle Paul observed this inscription, ' To the Unknown 
GOD;' because he says, in the words immediately following, 'Whom therefore 
ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.'^ The heathen sages, however in 
other instances their conduct seemed to run counter to their method of reasoning, 
plainly, by their assertions, discover their belief in but one supreme God, who has 
all the incommunicable perfections of the divine nature. Many of them, in their 
writings, assert that there is a God, who is the first cause or beginning of aU things ; 
that he was from eternity, or in the beginning, and that time took its rise from 
him ; that he is the living God, the fountain of life, and the best of all beings ;5 
that he is self-sufficient, and cannot, without absurdity, be supposed to stand in 
need of, or to be capable of, receiving advantage from any one ;^ that he is the chief 

d Isa. xl. 25. e Eph. ii. 12. ahei i» rif xoirfjuf. f Acts xvii. 23, 

g See Arist. Metaphis. lib. i. cap. 2. aiid'lib. xii. cap. 7. 
h Vid. ejusd. Mag. Moral, lib. ii. cap. 13. 
I. R 


good, or contains in himself -wliatever is good, and that by him all things consist ; 
and that no one hath enough in himself to secure his own safety and happiness, 
but must derive these from him.' There are others also who plainly assert the unity 
of God in as strong terms as though they had learned it from divine revelation, — 
calling him the beginning, the end, and the author of all things, who was before 
and is above all things, the Lord of all, the fountain of life, light, and all good, 
yea, goodness itself, the most excellent being, — and giving him many other desig- 
nations of a similar nature. I could multiply quotations to this effect from Proclus, 
Porphyry, lamblicus, Plotinus, Plutarch, Epictetus, and several others ; but this 
has been already done by other hands. ^ From the sayings of these heathens, it 
appears that, though they mention other gods, they suppose them to be little more 
than titular or honorary gods, or at best, persons who were the peculiar favourites 
of God, and admitted to the participation of divine honours, as welji as employed 
in some part of the government of the world. They frequently speak of them as 
having derived their being from God, whom they call, " the cause of causes, the 
God of gods." Some of them speak of God in the singular number, throughout 
the greatest part of their writings, and only make mention of the gods occasionally ; 
especially when they treat of those works that are worthy of a God, or the greatest 
honours that are due to him. This is specially the case with Seneca and Plato. 
The latter, in particular, says,^ that when he wrote anything in a grave and serious 
manner, his custom was to preface his epistles with the mention of one God ; though, 
it is true, when he wrote otherwise, he used the common mode of speaking, and 
talked of other gods. It is observed, that he sometimes, in his writings, uses the 
phrase, " If it please God," or, "by the help of God," not the gods. Notwith- 
standing what has been said, however, the heathen sages were all idolaters ; for 
they joined in the rites of worship performed to the false gods of their respective 
countries. Yea, Socrates himself, who fell under the displeasure of the Athenians 
for asserting the unity of the Godhead, and in consequence lost his life, did not 
refuse to pay some religious honour to the heathen gods. It is plain that they 
paid some religious worship to them. Yet this was of an inferior and subordinate 
nature, not much unlike to that which the papists give to saints and angels. They 
are far from setting them upon a level with God. They confess they were but men 
who formerly lived in this world ; they give an account of their birth and parentage, 
and of where they lived and died ; they write the history of their lives ; they mention 
what procured them the honour they suppose them after death to have been advanced 
to,™ — how some of them attained it as the reward of virtue, or in commemoration 
of the good they had done to the world in their life, — and some, in consequence of 
their having been inventors of arts, beneficial to mankind, or conquerors in war, or 
a public blessing to the country where they lived. Others, especially among the 
Romans, were deified at the request of their surviving friends. This, after Julius 
Caesar's time, was done by the decree of the senate, who, when they ranked them 
among the number of their gods, at the same time appointed the rites that should 
be observed in their worship. And some of the Roman emperors obliged the senate 
to deify them while they were alive. These things are very largely insisted on by 
many ancient and modern writers.'* Upon the whole, thereibre, it plainly appears 
that, whatever they say of a plurality of gods, the wiser sort among the heathen 
did not deny the unity of the divine essence, in the highest and most proper sense. 
And as they received the knowledge of this truth from the light of nature, we may 
conclude that it might be known in that way, as well as by divine revelation. [See 
Note 2 I, page 133.] 

As a practical inference from the doctrine that the object of our worship is the 
living God, let us feel reproved for that lifeless formality with which many address 
themselves to him in the performance of religious duties, and for the want of 
reverence of, and due regard to, the divine pertections which are exhibited in this 

i Vid ejusd. De Moribiis, lib. ix. cap. 4. and De Mundo, cap. 6. 

k Vid. Mornsei de Verit. Relig. Christian, cap. 3. 1 Epist. XIII. ad Dionys. 

m See Cicero De Natura Deorutn. 

n See Tertull. Apol. Lactant. de falsa Relig. Ainoo. contra Gentes. Minut. Fel. Herodian. Hiat. 

lib. iv. See also Mtde's Apostacy ot the Latter Times, chap. 3, 4 


character of the Godhead. It is also a very great aggravation, not onlj of apos- 
tacy, but of any degree of backsliding in those who have made a profession of 
religion, that it is 'a departing Irom the living God.'° Is he the God and giver 
of life, and shall we forsake him who ' has the words of eternal life,'P whose sove- 
reign will has the sole disposal of it ? The consideration of his being the living 
God, likewise renders his judgments most terrible, and his wrath insupportable. 
' It is,' as the apostle says, 'a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'i 

From his being the true God, we infer, that all hypocrisy, both in heart and life, 
is to be avoided ; and that we should draw nigh to him with a true heart and faith 
unfeigned, and not like those whom the prophet reproves, when he says, ' God was 
near in their mouth, and far from their reins.''' Let us take heed, moreover, that 
we do not set up any idol in our hearts in opposition to him as the true God. 
Whatever has a greater share in our affections than God, or is set up in compe- 
tition with him, is to us a god ; and the setting of it up is inconsistent with our 
paying that regard to him which is due. Accordingly, our Saviour says, ' Ye can- 
not serve God and mammon.'^ On this account, ' covetousness ' is styled ' idolatry,'* 
because, where it exists, the world is loved more than him. We read also of some 
'whose god is their belly,'" who ' make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts 
thereof,' as though this was their chief good. And when, in a religious way, we 
confide in anything below God, or expect that from the creature which is only to 
be found in him, or when we esteem men as lords of our faith, or when God's 
sovereignty, or right to govern us, is called in question, and we presumptuously or 
wilfully rebel against him, we, in efi"ect, dethrone him, or deny that he is the true 
G od. But more of this when we consider the sins forbidden in the first command- 

From the unity of the Godhead, we may infer that we ought to take heed not to 
entertain any conceptions of the divine Being which are inconsistent with his unity. 
As we are not to assert a plurality of gods, so we are not to think or speak of God 
in such a way as tends to overthrow the simplicity of the divine nature. We must 
therefore not conceive that it is compounded of various parts, all wliich, being taken 
together, constitute the divine essence. This conception, as opposed to a proper 
idea of the divine unity, gives occasion to that known aphorism, generally laid 
down by those who treat of this subject, that ' whatever is in God, is God.' This 
we must reckon one of the incomprehensibles of the divine Being, when we attempt 
to speak of which, we only give an evident proof of the imperfection of our finite 
understandings, and of our inability to order our words by reason of darkness. It 
is necessary, however, when we lay down this proposition, that we define what we 
intend by it, that so we may not be supposed to use words without ideas. It is 
necessary, in particular, that we should so define it, as to account, in some measure, 
for those modes of speaking which, agreeably to scripture, describe God as having 
a plurality of perfections, and perfections in some respects distinct ; and yet, at the 
same time, that we may not be led to infer a plurality of Gods. 

Let it be considered, then, that we have not the least similitude or resemblance 
of divine unity in any finite being. Every thing below God is composed of parts. 
In some cases, we call these integi-al ; as the parts of matter, which, when taken 
together, constitute the whole. In other cases, the parts are called essential ; ^ 
when we say an intelligent being has various powers or properties. These are es- 
sential to it; it would not be complete without every one of them; and they are all 
distinct. We cannot say that whatever is in the soul of man is the soul ; but all 
its powei's or properties, taken together, constitute the man. This, however, is by 
no means to be affirmed of the divine Being. When we conceive of God as holy, 
powerful, just, good, &c. we must not suppose that these perfections are so many 
ingredients in Deity, or that, when taken together, they constitute it, as the whole 
is constituted of its parts. In that case, each of them would have no other than a 
partial perfection ; and the essential glory of one of them would not be equal to 
the glory of the Deity, which is supposed to consist of them all. There would, 

o Heb. iii. 12. p John vi. 68. q Heb. x. 31. r Jer. xii. 2. 

s Matt. vi. 24. t Col. iii. 3. u Phil. iii. 19. x Quest, cv. 


lience, be something in God less than God, or a divine perfection less than all the 
divine perfections taken together, — which we are not to suppose. Such are the 
properties of composition ; and when we speak of God as a simple or uncompounded 
being, we mention them as what are inconsistent with his perfection as such. 
Neither are the divine perfections distinct or different from one another, as the 
various parts of which the whole is constituted are said to be distinct. This fol- 
lows from the former consideration, that the divine essence has no parts. We are 
not to suppose, then, that the divine attributes, considered as thej are in God, 
are distinguished as one thing or being is from another, or as wisdom, power, jus- 
tice, mercy, &c. are in men. This would be to suppose the divine being to have 
several distinct, infinitely perfect beings contained in it, — contrary to its simplicity 
or unity. Or, were we, on such a supposition, to say that it has unity, it would 
have it only by participation and dependence : just as a general or complex idea is 
said to be one which partakes of, and depends on, all those particular or simple 
ideas that are contained in it, or as one hundred is one, as containing such a num- 
ber of units as taken together, are equal to a hundred. This is not what we mean 
when we say God is one. Moreover, when we speak of the divine perfections, as 
being in God, we suppose them all essential to him, as opposed to what is acciden- 
tal. An accident is generally described as what belongs, or is superadded, to a 
being or subject, which might have existed without it, or which might have been 
destitute of it, and yet sustained no loss of that perfection which is essential to it. 
Thus wisdom, holiness, justice, faithfulness, are accidents in men ; so that they 
who have them not, do not cease to be men, or to have the essential perfections of 
the human nature. But this is by no means to be affirmed of the divine being and 
attributes ; for to suppose God to be destitute of any of them, is as much as to say 
that he is not infinitely perfect, or that he is not God. What I have now stated is, 
I think, the meaning generally intended, by the saying, ' Whatever is in God, is 
God.' This proposition may be reckoned by some a metaphysical speculation ; and 
I should for that reason have avoided to mention it, had not an advertence to it 
been, in some respects, necessary : the unity of God cannot well be conceived of, 
unless his simplicity be defended ; and I do not see how the latter can be well 
maintained, if this proposition be not duly considered. If in attempting to explain 
it, I have used more words than are needlul, or repeated the same ideas too often, 
I have done so to avoid some scholastic modes of speaking, or with a design to 
render what I said more intelligible. [See Note 2 K, page 134.] We may add, 
that when, as we often, on the warrant of scripture, do, we speak of the divine per- 
fections as many, or as distinct from one another, — when we speak of the justice 
of God as different from his mercy, or these from his power, wisdom, faithfulness, 
«fcc., we must not be thought to speak inconsistently with what has been said con- 
cerning the divine simplicity. The nature and perfections of God, it is to be re- 
membered, are incomprehensible. Hence all the ideas which we have of them, are 
obtained from our discerning some small resemblance of them in intelligent crea- 
tures, and, at the same time, separating from this whatever argues imperfection.y 
It follows tliat we are supposed not to know, or to be able to describe, what God 
is in himself, and as I humbly conceive, never shall. Such knowledge as this is 
t^ great for any but a divine person. Our conceptions of him, therefore, are taken 
from, and conformed to, those various methods by which he condescends to make 
himself visible or known to us, or his acts in reference to objects in which he is said 
to manifest his perfections. Thus when an effect is produced, we call that perfec- 
tion that produces it his power ; or when divine acts are distinguished with respect to 
their particular object or to the manner of their glorifying him, we call the perfec- 
tions displayed in them his wisdom, justice, goodness, &c. This is what we mean 
when we speak of various perfections in God. Some, however, suppose that they 
express themselves more agreeably to the nature of the subject, or to the simplicity 
of God, by speaking of the divine perfections as denominated from their effects. 
When, for example, they take occasion to mention the power of God, they call it 
God acting powerfully ; or of his justice and faithfulness, they call them, God 

y See pages 90, 91, compared with pages 79, 80. 


acting justly or faithfully.^ But however we express ourselves, when we speak of 
the distinct perfections of tho divine nature, we mean what is strictly consonant 
with divine unity and simplicity. Here our thoughts must stop ; and what is too 
great for a finite mind to conceive of, we must make the subject of our admiration ; 
and what we cannot comprehend, we must adore : ' Such knowledge is too wonder- 
ful for us ; it is high, we cannot attain unto it.' 

z See De Vries Exercitat, Rational. 

[Note 2H. Proofs of the Unity of God from Reason All Dr. Ridgeley's proofs of the unity of 

God Irom reason, are variations of one proposition, — God is a self-existent, infinite being, and. as 
such, is necessiu'ily one. The proposition assumes all the points which a polytheist demands to be 
proved, and gathers all its matter and evidence from revelation. Only a fondness for abstract ar- 
gumentation, for the claims of what is termed ' natural religion,' or for appearing to establish a 
great doctrine of theology by the light of reason, could induce any man to parade this proposition 
as proof of the divine unity, or to exhibit its various phases as separate and independent arguments. 
Why not rest the unity of God simply on the testimony of revelation, — or on that testimony as 
directing the mind to corroborative evidence in the uniqueness and sovereign management of divine 
works? That God is one, is a doctrine which the scriptures teach with remarkalde frequency, and 
in a great variety of forms. While some other doctrines are but incidentally inculcated, or are 
silently interwoven with the fabric of faith and precept, this is often and carefully taught, — taught 
in express terms, and in almost all possible connexions. Does not this fact clearly indicate, that 
reason is not to be trusted for the conservation and defence of the doctrine, — that here, as truly as 
with respect to the doctrines of redemption, we must sit under the shadow of God's word, and re- 
gard it as the sole bulwark of our faith? 

l)r. Ridgeley's fifth argument is an instance of how mere reason will sometimes rather injure than 
serve the cause of one of the sim|)lest points in theology. He states that God has ' an absolute 
sovereign will,' and is therefore one. To work this proposition into an Jirgument, he supposes two 
al»solute sovereign wills, or two Gods, and hyi)Othetically depicts the effects of their simultaneous 
operation. An opponent might justly ask, by what imaginable process a man can suppose or fancy 
consequences or efl"ects, be they what they may. of an impossibility. That which cannot exist cannot 
act : that which is contrary to all possibility, catniot be imagined. To suppose two absolute sove- 
reign wills, is a hypothesis of the same idle nature as to suppose that a part is greater than a whole. 
How, then, can consequences or effects of two absolute sovereign wills be supposed? The hypo- 
thetical cause beitig an impossibility, all the supposed effects are. in the idlest sense, conjectural. 
An opponent might, therefore, assert just the opposite suppositions to Dr. Ridgeley's, — he might 
assert that two absolute sovereign wills would be in all respects alike. — that they would be the 
same in infiidte excellence, the same in their designs, the same in all their effects; and if he did 
assert so. be could be rebuked for the temerity of his speculations, only in terms which would 
equally apply to the hypothetizing of Dr. Ridgtley. The doctrine of the divine unity needs no 
metaphysical abstractions, no abstruse reasonings, no impossible hypotheses, for its defence; but 
stands out in luminous glory, intrinsically recommended, and divinely demonstrated, in the testimony 
of revelation. One sentence of scripture, viewed in connexion with the circumstances in which it 
was spoken, and the history of the people to whom it was addressed, discloses incomparably higher 
evidence of it than a whole library of scholastic ratiocination : ' Hear, O Israel, Jehovah, our God, 
is one Jehovah,' Deut. vi. 4. — Ed.] 

[Note 2 I. Knowledge of the Unity of God among the Heathen. — One would think that the uni- 
versal prevalence of polytheism ii> regions where the light of written revelation is not enjoyed, is 
a practical demonstration that the doctrine of the divine unity could never have been discovered or 
proved by mere reason, or by what is termed 'the light of nature.' Dr. Ridgeley thinks other- 
wise. But how does he support his hvpothesis? First by writing what looks very like an apolo- 
gy for polytheism, and next by assuming that the highest theological notions of the heathen sages 
were acquired without aid from revelation. 

He IS o'lliged to grant that the sages, including even Socrates, were all idolaters ; yet he asserts, 
an<l labours to prove, that they were not polytheists. Idolatry, it seems, consists in ' worshipping 
false gods ;' while polytheism consists in acknowledging supreme gods. How futile a distinction ! 
What matters it whether the object of faith or of adoration, — the object which receives the homage 
due to Deity, which has ascribed to it the glories peculiar to Jehovah, which attracts the venera- 
tion and trust and religious affections of the human heart — what matters it whether this object be 
an imaginary spirit or a deceased mortal, a figment of the fancy or a portable and pocketable mass 
of matter, a hero or a crocodile, the Jupiter or Minerva of the Romans, or the cat or leek of the 
Eg> ptians; does not the divine commandment, the first in the decalogue, exactly define and directly 
denounce it: 'Thou shalt have no other gods i)efore me?' Plato's idea of a supreme God sub- 
ject to fate, was a conception as far distant, in a sense, from the true notion of Deity, as the most 
grovelling polytheist's idea of the divinity of a stock or a stone. Its quality just as little exempted 
him from the charge of not knowing the true God, as the quality of the faith of an ancient Egyp- 
tian or of a modern Hindoo. All the high titles which he gave it, ' The fountain of life, light, and 
all good,' ' The cause of causes, and the God of Gods,' only demonstrated, when viewed in their 
connection, that the idea, liesides being talse in itself, involved and assumed the notion of a plurality 
of gods. That ail the gods but one were subordinate, was just a (iemonstration of how re>olute, how 
desperate, the sages were in their polytheism. They knew enough to be convinced that there can- 
not be two supreme beings; yet rather than want a plurality of gods, or confess the doctrine o/ 


the divine unity, tlicy deified mortals, and worshipped fictions of the mind. Such are the facts 
with respect to the heathen sages; they are the facts even according to Dr. Ridgeley's own show- 
ing; and, if ever facts proved anything, they show to demonstration, that the heathens, viewed 
as disciples of nnere reason, were inveterate and incurable polytheists. Their rejection of the doc- 
trine of the divine will, may have been more moral than intellectual, — more a dictate of the heart or 
an efTort of the wiM, than a deduction of the understanding ; but be it what it might, it was invari- 
able and universal-r-it characterized alike the sage and the savage — it was co-extensive with the 
absence of written revelation — and it hence speaks volumes as to the utter inadequacy of the 
vauntrd ' light of nature.' 

We have stated, however, but half the case. Dr. Ridgeley assumes — without offi-ring a syllable 
of proof — that such knowledge as the heathen sages had of a supreme Deity, was obtained without 
aid from revelation. AH history opposes his assumption. Reasons and authorities without num- 
ber might be adduced to show thiit, not only by traditions from patriarchial revelation, but by inter- 
communication with the Jews, if not even by immediate access to the pages of the Old Testament 
scriptures, the heathen philosophers were indebted to a supernatural origin for all tlieir higher and 
more refined conceptions. Considering what facilities for information they enjoyed, what streams 
from remote or proximate revelation flowed across their path, we may feel, not wonder that they 
entertain some theological views akin to truth, but unmingled astonishment that they entertained 
so few, and entertained them in so distorted and obscure a manner. The doctrine of the divine 
unity was promulged by revelation after revelation to the ages preceding the Mosaic; it was made 
known to Adam's family before the flood, and to Noah's family after it; it was inculcnted by oral 
communication upon mankind at large, and was afterwards made the foundation and the apex of 
the fabric of revealed truth set up among the Israelites; it was exhibited in every land through 
which a Jew travelled, in every house in which he lodged, in every company to which the fame of 
his religion was carried ; it went with the ships and the armies of Solomon ' from the river to the 
ends of the earth ;' it was daily, during seventy years, displayed throughout all the provinces of the 
Babylonian empire ; it was attesteii in the temple-rites of a numerous colony of Jew ish emigrants to 
Egypt, under the successors of Alexander the Great; and it was maintained, toward the close of the 
Mosaic era, by communities of Jews in almost every section of the civilized world, — by ' Parthians, 
Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotanda, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, 
and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and by 
strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians,' Acts ii. 9 — 11. How, in such 
circumstances, could the heathen sages, by any possibility, have heard nothing, how could they 
have heard oidy a little, how could they otlierwise than have heard much and often, from revela- 
tion, of the doctrine of the unity of God? But when they heard it, they rejected it; when they 
were, in a manner, forced to receive it in fact, they divested it of its glory, and associated it with 
ideas of their own multitudinous deities ; when they 'saw' it to demonstration in their under- 
standing, they 'perceived' it not in their hearts; ' when they knew God, they glorified him not 
as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imiJginations, and their foolish heart was 
darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the in- 
corruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, 
and creeping things,' Rom. i. 21 — 23. What a demonstration is this of the utter futility of the 
light of nature ! If heathens — even the best and w isest of them — universally continued polytheists 
in spite of indirect though valuable lessons from revelation, how absolutely incompetent were they 
to discover or defend the doctrine of the divine uinty by the efforts of mere reason! — Ed.] 

[Note 2 K. The Simplicity of God.—' The simplicity of God ' is not a significant or happy phrase, 
and is altogether uimecessary. As illustrated by Dr. Ridgeley, it is distinguished partly from the 
unity of God, and partly from his spirituality. As respects the former, there is really no distinc- 
tion ; and, as lespects the latter, the distinction attempted is founded on mistake. 

That God is not composed of parts, — that his perfections are not a number of ingredients which 
taken together constitute a whole, — that they are not accidental, — that his perfections are himself, 
and he himself is his perfections, are important truths, and ought to be carefully remembered in 
every contemplation of the divine character. They are truths, however, all embodied in the doc- 
trine that God is one, and fully and correctly expressed in the phrase, ' the unity of God.' To 
designate them by another phrase, and exhibit them as distinguishable from the doctrine of the divine 
uint\, or as attachable to it in the way of inference, is to produce confusion or error of conception. 

Apart from the iiiea of unity, there is nothing which, with any propriety as to the meaning of 
words, can be called ' the simplicity of God.' Wiiat Dr. Ridgeley says respecting the divine 
essence not being compounded, as matter or a complex idea is, belongs properlv to a view of God's 
spirituality. But he appears not to be contented with simply the notion of spirituality; and he 
attempts to show that there is 'a simplicity' in the divin- essence which does not exist in created 
spirits. 'An intelligent being,' he says, ' has various powers or properties which are essential to 
it, and which' — unlike the divine peifections — 'are all distinct. We cannot say that whatever is 
in the soul of man is the soul; but all its powers or properties taken together constitute the man.' 
Now, it is true, as he again observes, that ' wisdom, holiness, jiistiee, faithfulness, are accidents in 
men ; so that they who have them not do not cease to be men, or to have the essential perfections 
of the human nature.' But tltese properties are moral ; they belong to man in his relation lo the 
divine law or administration of mercy; they do not — as the attributes of the same name do in God 
—belong to the essence of his nature; they are only the properties, not the powers, not the essen- 
tial farulties of man's mmd or soul; they constitute, not his intellectuality, not his spirituality, but 
simply his moral character, — the aggregate of influences and motives and principles which determine 
his conduct as a subject of the divine government. But what shall be said of his knowing and 
reflecting powers, of his perception, h.s consciousness, his memory, his judgment? Are these 


'parts,* or 'ingredients,' or ' apcidonts?' Are they distinct from tlie intellect, or apart from 
one another? Or is not perception the entire mind receiviiifif an idea from without, consciousrjess 
the entire mind receiving an idea from within, memory the entire mind reculling an idea, and judg- 
ment the entire mind comparing one idea with another? The very undividedness ol tiie intellect, 
its uniqueness, its identity with what are called its powers or faculties, is what we denominate its 
spiritTiaiity, and what is distinguishahle in it from a sulistance which consists of ingredients or 
pirts. To speak of simplicity as something different from spiiituality, and, at the same time, infer. 
rible from unity, is, therefore, to speak without warrant, and to occasion confusion or error. That 
God is one, and that God is a spirit, are the only propositions respecting the indivisibility or oneness 
of the divine essence, which scripture contains or sanctions. To frame another, and talk of ' the 
simplicity of God,' is only to adopt one of those unmeaning scholastic distinctions which bewilder 
and mystify the understanding, and obscure or distort a facile and elementary truth.— Ed. "j 


Question IX. How many Persons are there in the Godhead? 

Answer. There be three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; 
and these three are one, true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; 
although distinguished by their personal properties. 

Question X. What are the personal properties of the three Persons in the Godhead ? 
Answer. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Fa- 
ther, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity. 

Question XI. How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the 
Father ? 

Answer. The scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the 
Father; ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only. 

In these three answers is contaiaed the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity. This 
is a subject of pure revelation. As it is much contested in the age in which we live, 
we are obliged to be copious and particular in laying down the reasons of our be- 
lief of it, and in our defence of it against those that deny it. It is a doctrine that 
has been defended by some of the most judicious writers, both in our own and in 
other nations. Some of these have proved that it was maintained by the church 
in the purest ages ; and their having done so renders it less necessary for us 
to enter kito the historical part of the controversy. We shall discuss the doctrine, 
principally, as founded on the sacred writings. And while others, by confining 
themselves to the scholastic methods of speaking, have rendered some parts of it 
obscure, we shall endeavour to avoid these, that so it may be better understood by 
private Christians. As to the method of treating it, we shall, first, premise some 
things which are necessary to be considered, with relation to it in general. Second- 
ly, we shall consider in what sense we are to understand the words ' Trinity ' and 
* Persons in the Godhead,' and in what respect the divine persons are said to be One. 
Thirdly, we shall prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have distinct per- 
Bonal properties, and therefore that we have sufficient reason to call them Persons 
in the Godhead, as they are called in the first of these answers. Under this head, 
we shall consider also what is generally understood by the eternal generation of 
the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost ; and wliat cautions we are to use, 
lest, by mistaking the sense of what is said on these subjects, we be led into any 
error, derogatory to, or subversive of, the doctrine of the Trinity. We shall like- 
wise endeavour to explain those scriptures which are generally brought to establish 
these doctrines. Lastly, we shall endeavour to prove that the three Persons in 
the Godhead, especially the Son and the Holy Ghost, are truly divine, or that 
they have all the perfections of the divine nature ; and therefore that they are, in 
the most proper sense, the one only living aiid true God. 

The Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity/. 

The first thing which we premise, as necessary to be considered, with relation 
to the doctrine of the Trinity in general, is that this doctrine is of the highest 


importance, and is necessary to be believed by all Christians who pay a just defer- 
ence to revealed religion. It may probably be reckoned an error in method to 
speak of the importance of the doctrine, before we attempt to prove its truth. Our 
doing so, however, is not altogether unjustifiable ; since we not only address our- 
selves to those who deny it, but also aim to produce some farther conviction or 
establishment in the faith of it, in those who believe it. We may therefore be 
allowed to consider it as an important doctrine ; in order that we may be excited 
to a more diligent inquiry into the force of some of those arguments which are 
generally brought in its defence. 

Now to determine a doctrine to be of the highest importance, we must consider 
the belief of it as subservient to that true religion which is ordained by God, as con- 
nected with salvation, or as a means leading to it, without which we have no war- 
rant to expect it. Such doctrines are sometimes called fundamental, as being the 
basis and foundation on which our hope is built. It will, I think, be allowed, by 
all whose sentiments do not savour of scepticism, that there are some doctrines of 
religion necessary to be believed to salvation. There are some persons, it is true, 
who plead for the innocency of error ; or who contend for this, at least, in 
the case of sincere inquirers after truth, who, in the end, will appear to have been 
very remote from it, — as though their endeavours would entitle them to salvation, 
without the knowledge of those things which others conclude to be necessarily sub- 
servient to it. All that we shall say on this point, is, that it is not the sincerity 
of our inquiries after important truths, but the success of them, which is to be re- 
garded as a means of obtaining so valuable an end. We may as well suppose that 
our sincere endeavours to obtain many of those graces which accompany salvation, 
such as faith, love to God, and evangelical obedience, will supply, or atone for, the 
want of them, as assert, that our unsuccessful inquiries after the great doctrines of 
religion, will excuse our ignorance of them. This especially appears when we con- 
sider, that blindness of mind, as well as hardness of heart, is included among those 
spiritual judgments which are the consequence of our fallen state ; and that God 
displays the sovereignty of his grace, as much in leading the soul into aU necessary 
truth, as in any other things that relate to salvation. It is not our business, how- 
ever, to determine the final state of men ; or how far they make advances to, or 
recede from, the knowledge of the most important doctrines ; or what will be the 
issue of their comparative acquaintance with them. Our business is rather to de- 
sire of God, that so far as we or others are destitute of a knowledge .of funda- 
mental doctrines, he would grant us and them ' repentance to the acknowledging 
of the truth. '^ Here we cannot but observe, that the question relating to im- 
portant or fundamental articles of faith, is not. Whether any doctrines may be so 
called ? but, What those doctrines are ? In. determining this, many make provi- 
sion for their own particular scheme of doctrines. Some, particularly the 
Papists, assert several doctrines to be fundamental, without scripture warrant ; 
yea, they assert some to be so which are directly contrary. Others allow no doc- 
trine to be fundamental, but what will, if adhered to, open a door of salvation to 
all mankind ; and these set aside the necessity of divine revelation. Others, who 
desire not to run such lengths, will allow that some scripture-doctrines are neces- 
sary to be believed to salvation ; but they allow only those to be such which are 
maintained by persons who are in their way of thinking. Accordingly, they who 
deny the doctrine of the Trinity, are obliged, in conformity to their own senti- 
ments, to deny also that it is an important article of faith. These may justly de- 
mand a convincing proof of the truth of it, before they believe it to be of any im- 
portance, especially to themselves. It would be a vain thing to tell them, that the 
belief of it is connected with salvation, or is as necessary as divine worship is, 
which supposes the belief of the divinity of the Persons whom we adore, — it would 
be vain to tell them this, without first proving that the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost, are divine Persons. It would be as little to their edification to say 
that there are several doctrines necessary to be believed ; — such as that of Christ's 
satisfaction, and of our justification depending on it, and that of regeneration and 

a 2 Tim. ii. 25. 


saiictification, as the effects of the divine power of the Holy Ghost, — all of which 
suppose the belief of Christ and the Holy Ghost being divine Persons. We must 
first give some convincing proof of the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity, with 
which these doctrines are supposed to stand or fall ; else it would be immediately 
replied, that the one is false, and far from being of any importance, and that therefore 
so are the others. But as we reserve the consideration of these doctrines to their 
proper place, we shall only observe at present, that there are some persons who do 
appear to deny not the doctrine of the Trinity, but rather the importance of it, and 
express themselves with very great indifference about it, and blame all attempts to 
defend it as needless or litigious, as though they were only a contest about words. 
They say, ' Though we liold it ourselves, others who deny it jnay have as much to 
say in defence of their own cause as we have, and therefore these disputes ought 
to be wholly laid aside.' Now, as regards these persons, what we have hinted con- 
cerning the importance of this doctrine may not be altogether misapplied. We 
have taken occasion, therefore, to mention it in this place, that we may not be sup- 
posed to plead a cause which is not worth defending ; and that the doctrine of the 
Trinity may appear to be, not an empty speculation, but a doctrine which we are 
bound to esteem as of the highest importance. 

Let us next consider what degree of knowledge of this doctrine is necessary to, 
or connected with, salvation It cannot be supposed that such a degree of know- 
ledge includes every thing that is commonly laid dowui in those writings in which 
the doctrine is attempted to be explained ; for when we speak of it as a doctrine of 
the highest importance, we mean by it the scripture -doctrine of the Trinity. 
This is what we are to assent to, and to use our utmost endeavours to defend. As 
for those explications which are merely human, they are not to be reckoned of 
equal importance. Every private Christian, in particular, is not to be censured as 
a stranger to this doctrine, who cannot define personality in a scholastic way, or 
understand all the terms used in explaining it, or several modes of speaking which 
some writers tenaciously adhere to, — such as ' hypostasis,' ' subsistence,' ' consub- 
stantiality,' ' the model distinction of the Persons in the Godhead,' ' filiation,' ' the 
communication of the divine essence by generation,' 'the communication of it by 
procession.' Some of those expressions rather embarrass the minds of men, than 
add any farther light to the sense of those scriptures in which this doctrine is 
taught. AVhen we consider how far the doctrine of the Trinity is to be known and 
believed to salvation, we must not exclude the weakest Christian from a possibility 
of knownig it, by supposing it necessary for him to understand some hard words, 
which he doth not find in his Bible, and which, if he meet them elsewhere, will not 
add much to his edification. That knowledge which is necessary to salvation, is 
plain and easy, and is to be found in every part of scripture. Accordingly, every 
Christian knows, that the word ' God ' signifies a Being that has all those divine 
perfections which are so frequently attributed to him in scripture, and are displayed 
and glorified in all his works of common providence and grace. Every Christian 
knows also that this God is one ; and he learns from his Bible, and therefore firmly 
believes, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are possessed of divine perfections, 
and consequently are this one God. He knows, lurther, that, in scripture, they 
are distinguished by such characters and properties as are generally called 'per- 
sonal ;' and he applies the word ' Person ' to each of them, and concludes that the 
divine glory attributed to them is the same, though their personal properties or 
characters are distinct. This is the substance of what is contained in the first of 
the Answers at present under consideration. And he who believes this, needs not 
entertain any doubt that he wants some ideas of this sacred doctrine which are 
necessary to salvation ; for the degree of knowledge, which he possesses, attended 
with a firm belief, is sufficient to warrant all those acts of divine worship which we 
are bound to render to the Father, Son, and Spirit, and is consistent with all those 
other doctrines, which are founded on that of the Trinity, or which suppose the 
belief of it. 


The Doctrine of the Trinity a Mystery. 

The doctrine of the Trinity is a great niysterj, such as cannot be comprehended 
by a finite mind. But let us inquire what we are to understand by the word 
' mystery,' as it is used in scripture. This word sometimes denotes a doctrine's 
having been kept secret, or, at least, revealed more obscurely than afterwards, so 
that it was not so clearly known. In this sense the gospel is called, ' The mystery 
■which hath been hid from ages, and from generations, but now is made manifest 
to his saints.''' It was covered with the ceremonial law, as with a vail, which 
many of the people, through the blindness of their minds, did not fully understand. 
Accordingly, when persons are led into a farther knowledge of it, it is said, as 
our Saviour tells his disciples, that to them it is given to ' know the mysteries of 
the kingdom of heaven.''' — Again, when something is revealed in scripture which 
the world was not in the least apprized of before, it is, by way of eminence, called 
• a mystery.' The apostle, speaking concerning the change that shall take place 
on those that shall be found alive at the last day, says, ' Behold, I show you a 
mystery ; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the 
twinkling of an eye.'*^ — There is still another idea affixed to the word 'mystery,' 
namely, that though a doctrine be revealed, it cannot be fully comprehended. It is 
in this sense that we call the doctrine of the Trinity a mystery. The word, in 
some scriptures, seems to occur in two of its senses. When the apostle says, 
' Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should 
preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men 
see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, 
hath been hid in God,'<^ he speaks of the gospel, not only 'as hid,' but as 'unsearch- 
able ;' and when he speaks of 'the mystery of God, even the Father and of Christ, 
in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,'*' the word 'mystery' 
seems to denote that which had not been fully made known, and that which can- 
not be lully understood. Few will deny that the glory of the Father, who is here 
spoken of, as well as Christ, is incomprehensible by a finite mind ; and if it be said 
that the gospel is intended, and that the words ought to be rendered, ' in which are 
hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,' even this must be supposed to be 
incomprehensible, as well as formerly less known, otherwise the character which 
the apostle gives of it would be too great. 

But suppose the word ' mystery' were always used to signify a doctrine not be- 
fore revealed, without including the idea of its being incomprehensible, our general 
position would not be overthrown ; for we can prove from other arguments that the 
doctrine of the Trinity is incomprehensible ; and this we shall endeavour to do. That 
we may prepare our way for this, let it be considered, that there are some finite things 
not incomprehensible in themselves, which we cannot now comprehend by reason of 
the imperfection of our present state. How little do we know of some things which 
may be called mysteries in nature, — such as the reason of the growth and various 
colours and shapes of plants, and the various instincts of brute creatures! Yea, 
bow little do we know comparatively of ourselves ! How little of the nature of our 
souls, othei-wise than as it is observed by their actions, and by the effects they pro- 
duce, — or of the reason of their union with our bodies, or of their acting by them! 
As the inspired writer observes, ' Thou knowest not the way of the spirit, nor how 
the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child ; even so thou knowest 
not the works of God, who maketh all things.'? Elihu, mentioning some wonder- 
ful works of nature, which he challenges Job to give an account of, speaks of this 
in particular, ' Dost thou know how thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the 
eartli, by the south wind ?''^ These words signify, not only that we cannot account 
for the winds producing heat or cold, as blowing from various quarters of heaven, 
but that we know not the reason of the vital heat which is preserved, for so many 

b Coloss. i. 26. c Matt. xiii. II. d 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. e Epb. iii. 8, 9 f Coloss. ii. 3. 

g Eccleg. xi. 5. h Job xxxvii. 17, &c. 


years, in the bodies of men, the inseparable concomitant and sign of life, or what 
gives the first motion to the blood and spirits, or fits the organized body to per- 
form its various functions. These things cannot be comprehended by us. 

But when we speak of that which is infinite, wo must conclude it to be incom- 
prehensible, not only because of the imperfection of our present state, but because, 
as has been before observed,^ of the infinite disproportion that there is between 
the object and our finite capacities. In this respect, we showed that the perfec- 
tions of the divine nature cannot be comprehended, — such as the immensity, eter- 
nity, omnipresence, and simplicity of God. Yet we are to believe that he is 
infinitely perfect. Now it seems equally reasonable to suppose the doctrine of the 
Trinity to be incomprehensible ; for the mutual relation of the Father, Son, and 
Spirit, and their distinct personality, are not the result of the divine will — they 
are personal perfections, and are therefore necessary, and their glory, as well as 
that of his essential perfections, infinite. If we are bound to believe one to be 
incomprehensible, why should we not as well suppose the other to be so ? Or if 
there are some things which the light of nature gives us some ideas of, concerning 
which we, notwithstanding, know but little, why should it be thought strange, that 
the doctrine of the Trinity, though the subject of pure revelation, should be equally 
incomprehensible ! This inference appears so evident, that some who deny the 
doctrine of the Trinity to be incomprehensible, do not hesitate to deny the pei-fec- 
tions of the divine nature to be so. They maintain that there is nothing which is 
the object of faith but what may be comprehended by us ; and thus go to extremi- 
ties in defence of their cause, which no one who hath the least degree of the humil- 
ity becoming a finite creature, should venture to adopt. They even, as their 
cause seems to require, proceed as far as to say, that every doctrine which we can- 
not comprehend is to be rejected by us ; as though our understandings were to set 
bounds to the truth and credibility of all things. 

This, I think, is the true state of the question about mysteries in Christianity. 
The question is not, whether the word ' mystery ' is never used in scripture to 
signify what is incomprehensible ; for if that could be sufiiciently proved, which I 
think hath not yet been done, we would assert the doctrine of the Trinity to be 
more than a mystery, namely, an incomprehensible doctrine. And the proof of 
this seems absolutely necessary ; for the Anti-trinitarians — some of them, with an 
air of insult — conclude that our asserting it is a last resort, which we betake our- 
selves to when they have beaten us out of all our other strongholds. We might 
suppose, therefore, that the doctrine of the incomprehensiblity of the Trinity would 
be opposed with the greatest warmth ; but I do not find that it has hitherto been 
overthrown. Indeed, when they call it one of our most plausible pretences, as 
though we laid the whole stress of the controversy upon it, we might expect that it 
should be attacked with stronger arguments than it generally is. Sometimes they 
bend their force principally against the sense of the word ' mystery : ' and here 
they talk not only with an air of insult, but with profaneness, when they compare 
the doctrine with the abominable mysteries of the heathen, which were not to be 
divulged to any but those who were in the secret, or when they compare it with 
tran substantiation, and reckon it mysterious in the same sense, or, according to 
their construction, absurd and nonsensical. This way of arguing has so far pre- 
vailed among them, that no one must apply the word ' mystery ' to any doctrines of 
religion without exposing himself to scorn and ridicule. This, however, will do no 
service to their cause, nor prejudice to our doctrine, in the opinion of those who 
inquire into the latter with that seriousness and impartiality which the importance 
of the doctrine calls for. 

The question, then, is, whether any doctrines of religion may be deemed incom- 
prehensible, — that is, such as we can have no adequate ideas of, because of the 
disproportion between them and our finite minds? and whether the incommunicable 
perfections of God are not to be reckoned among these incomprehensible doctrines? 
If they are not, it will be reasonable to demand that every thing relating to them 
be particularly accounted for, and reduced to the standard of a finite capacity. If 

li Ste Quest, vii. Sect. ' The Incomprehensibility of God. 


this cannot be done, but some things must be allowed to be incomprehensible in 
religion, it will be farther inquired. Why should the doctrine of the Trinity be re- 
jected, because we cannot account for every thing that relates to the personal 
glory of God, any more than we can for those things that respect his essential 
glory ? Or may not some things that are matter of pure revelation, be supposed 
to exceed our capacities, and yet we be bound to believe them, as well as other 
things which by the light of nature appear to be true, and, at the same time, are 
incomprehensible ? But that we may enter a little more particularly into this 
argument, we* shall consider the most material objections that are brought against 
it, and what may be replied to them. 

One objection is, that we take up with the mere sound of words, and do not affix 
any manner of ideas to them. Now there is no Christian, that I know of, who 
thinks there is any religion in the sound of words, or that it is sufficient for us 
to take up with the word * Trinity,' or ' Persons in the Godhead,' without deter- 
mining, in some measure, what we understand by it. We allow that faith sup- 
poses some ideas of the object, — that is, that we have some knowledge of what we 
believe it to be. But our knowledge of things admits of various degrees. Of 
some things we know only that they are what they are determined or proved to be. 
If we proceed farther in our inquiries, and would know how every matter is to be 
accounted for which may justly be affirmed concerning them, our ideas are at a 
stand. Yet our being reduced to this state is not in the least inconsistent with our 
believing what we conclude them to be. We believe, for example, that God's 
eternity is without succession, or that his immensity is without extension. This 
we know and believe, because to assert the contrary would be to ascribe imper- 
fection to him. Our laith, as grounded on this reason of it, extends only as iar as 
our ideas ; and as regards Avhat exceeds them, we are bound to believe that there 
is something in God which is beyond the reach of a finite mind, though, in conse- 
quence of its being infinite, we cannot comprehend or lully describe it. So with 
respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, it is one thing to say that the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, have the perfections of the divine nature, as well as distinct personal 
characters and properties, attributed to them in scripture, and that because the 
Godhead is but one, these three are one, — it is one thing to say this, and firmly 
to believe it, on the ground of its being clearly revealed in scripture ; and another 
thing to say tliat, though we cannot fully describe all the properties of their divine 
personality, we, nevertheless, believe that they subsist in an incomprehensible 
manner. And while we compare them with finite persons, as we do tlie perfections 
of God with those of the creature, we separate from the one, as well as from the 
other, whatever savours of imperfection. 

Another objection is, that it is unbecoming the divine wisdom and goodness to 
suppose that God should give a revelation, and demand our belief of it, as neces- 
sary to salvation, when, at the same time, it is impossible for our understandings 
to yield an assent to it, since nothing that is unintelligible can be the object of 
faith. Now, we must distinguish between rendering unintelligible, by perplexity 
or difficulty of style, a doctrine which would otherwise be easy to be understood, 
and the imparting of a doctrine which none can comprehend. The former of these 
cannot be charged on any part of scripture ; and it is only a revelation liable to be 
charged with it which could be reckoned inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness 
of God. As to the latter, the design of revelation is not to make us comprehend 
what is in itself incomprehensible. God, for instance, did not design, when he made 
known his perfections in his word, to give us such a perfect discovery of himself, that 
we might be said by means of it to find him out unto perfection, or that we should 
know as much of his glory as is possible to be known, or as much as he knows of 
it himself ; for that is to suppose the understanding of man infinitely more perfect 
than it is. Whatever is received, is received in proportion to the measure of that 
which contains it. The whole ocean can communicate no more water than what 
will fill the vessel which is applied to receive it. Accordingly, the infinite perfec- 
tions of God being such as cannot be contained in a finite mind, we are not to 
suppose that our comprehending them was the design of divine revelation. God, 
indeed, designed that we should apprehend some things of himself, or as much as 


should be subservient to the great ends of religion, but not so much as might be 
inconsistent with our humbly confessing that 'we are but of yesterday, and know,' 
comparatively, 'nothing.'' And this is true as regards not only the essential, but 
the personal glory of God, ' Who hath ascended into heaven, or descended ? Who 
hath gathered the wind in his fists ? Who hath bound the waters in a garment ? 
Who hath established all the ends of the earth ? What is his name, and what is 
his son's name, if thou canst tell?''' Our Saviour, indeed, speaks of his having 
'ascended into heaven,'' as having a comprehensive knowledge of all divine truths ; 
but this he affirms concerning himself as a divine person, exclusively of all crea- 
tures. As to the objection stating, that God makes the comprehensive knowledge 
of mysterious doctrines a term of salvation, we must take leave to deny it. We 
have already considered what degree of knowledge is necessai'y to salvation, 
and have shown it to be such as is subservient to religion, — which teaches us to 
adore what we apprehend to be its object, though we cannot comprehend it. As 
to the further allegation in the objection, that that which is unintelligible, is not 
the object of faith, we must distinguish before we grant or deny it. As the object 
of faith is some proposition laid down, it is one thing to say that a proposition can- 
not be assented to, when we have no ideas of what is affirmed or denied in it ; and 
another thing to say that it is not to be believed, when we have ideas of several 
things contained in it, of which some are aflftrmed, and others denied. When, for 
instance, we say that God is an infinite Spirit, there is a positive idea contained in 
the proposition, or there is something affirmed in it, namely, that he is able to put 
forth actions suitable to an intelligent being ; there is also something denied con- 
cerning him, namely, that he is corporeal, and that there are any limits to his un- 
derstanding. Now, all this we may truly be said to understand and believe. But 
if we proceed farther, and inquire what it is to have such an understanding or will, 
not only does the question exceed our comprehension, but it is not a proposition, 
and consequently not the object of faith. The same principle holds with regard to 
the doctrine of the Trinity. When we affirm that there is one God, that the Father, 
Son, and Spii-it, have all the perfections of the Godhead, and that these perfections, 
and the personality of each of them, are infinitely greater than what can be found 
in the creature, we state what we yield our assent to. But if it be inquired how far 
God herein exceeds all the ideas which we have of finite perfections, or personality, 
our understandings are at a loss. So far, however, as this does not contain the form 
of a proposition, it cannot, according to our common acceptation of the word, be 
said to be the object of faith. 

A third objection is, that practical religion is designed to be promoted in 
the world by a revelation ; and therefore the will of man must follow the dictates 
of the understanding, and not blindly embrace, and be conversant about, we know 
not what, — which is to act unbecoming our character as intelligent creatures. 
Now, the ideas which we have of things subservient to practical religion are of two 
sorts, such as engage our obedience, or such as excite our adoration and admira- 
tion. As to the former, we know what we are commanded to do, what it is to act 
as becomes those who are subject to a divine person, though we cannot comprehend 
those infinite perfections which lay us under the highest obligations to obey him. 
As to the latter, the incomprehensibleness of the divine personality, or perfections, 
has a direct tendency to excite our admiration, and the infinitude of them our 
adoration. And since all religion may be reduced to these two heads, the contents 
of divine revelation, so far from being inconsistent with it, tend to promote it. 
Things commanded are not, as such, incomprehensible, as was but now observed, 
and therefore not inconsistent with that obedience or subjection which is enjoined 
in one branch of revelation ; and things incomprehensible do not contain the form 
of a command, but rather excite our admiration, and therefore are not only con- 
sistent with, but adapted to promote, the other branch of it. Is it not an instance 
of religion to adore and magnify God, when we behold the display of his perfections 
in his works ? And is he less to be adored, or admired, because we cannot com- 
prehend them ? Or should we not rather look upon them with a greater degree of 

i Job viii. 9. k Prov. xxx. 4. 1 Jobn iii. 13. 


astonishment, than if thej did not exceed the reach of a finite mind ? Must a 
person be able to measure the water of the ocean, or number all the particles of 
matter that are contained in the world, beibre his ideas can be in any way directed 
to show forth the Creator's praise ? Or must we be able to account for every thing 
that is a mystery in nature, before we can improve it to promote some of the ends 
of practical religion to which it incites us ? May we not say, with wonder, ' O 
Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all ; the earth 
is full of thy riches ?'™ So when we behold the personal glory of the Father. 
Son, and Spirit, as displayed in the work of redemption, or as revealed in scrip 
ture, which, as exhibiting it, is said to be an instance of his 'manifold wisdom,'" 
should we not admire it the more that it is, as the apostle calls it, ' unsearchable?' 
We conclude, therefore, that practical religion, as founded on divine revelation, 
is not, in auj of its branches, inconsistent with the incomprehensiblencss of 
those things which are, some in one respect, and others in another, its objects. 
As to what the objection further states concerning the will following the dictates 
of the understanding, and practical religion being seated in the latter, I own that 
we must first know what we are to do in matters of religion, before we can act. 
Thus we must first know what it is to worship, love, and obey the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, and also that these three divine persons are the object of worship, love, 
and obedience ; and then the will follows the dictates of the understanding. But 
it is one tiling to know these things, and another thing to be able to comprehend 
the divine, essential, or personal glory which belongs to them, and is the founda- 
tion of acts of religious worship. 

Another objection is, that the design of divine revelation is to improve our un- 
derstandings, and render our ideas of things more clear, and not to entangle and 
perplex them ; or, as it is sometimes expressed, that revelation is an improvement 
upon the light of nature. This objection seems to have a double aspect, or ten- 
dency to advance, or to depreciate, divine revelation. If we take it in the former 
view, we freely own that revelation is a very great improvement upon the light of 
nature. It is so, as it leads us into the knowledge of many things which could not 
be discovered by the light of nature, — such as the doctrine of the Trinity, of the 
incarnation of the Son of God, and of that infinite satisfaction which was given by 
him to the justice of God in order to our discharge from condemnation ; and 
also as it leads us into that communion which believers have with the Father, Son, 
and Spirit. Since the light of nature gives us no discovery of these doctrines, 
divine revelation, and particularly the gospel, makes a very great addition to our 
ideas. Both, it is true, take their rise from God ; yet one excels the other as 
much as the light of the sun does that of a star. The psalmist, when comparing 
them, says respecting revelation, ' It is perfect, converting the soul,' and 'sure, 
making wise the simple. '° Again, when the same truths are discovered by the 
light of nature, and by divine revelation, the latter tends very much to improve 
our ideas. Thus when the light of nature leads us into the knowledge of the being 
and perfections of God, his wisdom, power, and goodness, as illustrated in the works 
of creation and providence, we have not so clear ideas of them, as we receive from 
the additional discoveries of them in divine revelation. Hence, the one does not 
cloud or darken those ideas which the other gives. But those who bring the ob- 
jection against the doctrine of the Trinity, intend by it to depreciate divine revela- 
tion ; and the sense of their objection is, — that though the light of nature leads 
mankind into such a degree of the knowledge of divine truths as is sufficient, in 
its kind, to salvation, so that they who are destitute of divine revelation may un- 
derstand the terms of acceptance with God, and the way which, if duly improved, 
would lead to heaven ; yet God was pleased to give some farther discovery of the 
same things by his word, which, in consequence, is only an improvement upon the 
other, as it makes the same truths which were known in some degree without it, 
more clear, and frees them from those corruptions or false glosses which the per- 
verse reasonings of men have set upon them ; wliereas we, by insisting on inexpli- 
cable mysteries, which we pretend to be founded on divine revelation, though in 

m Psal. civ. 24. n Epli. iii. 10. o Psal. xix. 7. 


reality they are not contained in it, cloud and darken the light of nature, and so 
make the way of salvation more difficult than it would otherwise be. This objec- 
tion, however plausible the words, at first view, may appear to be, certainly tends 
to depreciate divine revelation. It supposes those doctrines now mentioned, and 
many others of a similar nature, not necessary to salvation. It, therefore, takes 
its rise from the Deists, however it may be applied by the Anti-trinitarians, in 
militating against the doctrine of the Trinity. And as the principal design of it is 
to overthrow this doctrine, by supposing it to be unintelligible, and, according to 
their method of reasoning, in no sense the object of faith, the only reply which 
need be made to it is, that the discoveries of the glory of God by the light of na- 
ture, are, in some respects, as incomprehensible as the doctrine of the Trinity, 
while we are not, for that reason, obliged to disbelieve or reject them. No advan- 
tage, therefore, is gained against our argument, by supposing that the light of nature 
contains a discovery of truths, plain, easy, and intelligible, and that the doctrine 
of the Trinity is otherwise, and, as such, is not contained in divine revelation, and 
cannot be defended. 

The Doctrine of the Trinity not contrary to reason. 

Another thing that may be premised, before we enter on the proof of the doc- 
trine of the Trinity, is, that that doctrine is not contrary to reason, though it be 
above it, and that our reasoning powers, when directed by scripture-revelation, are 
not altogether useless, in order to our attaining such a degree of the knowledge of it 
as is necessary, and ought to be diligently sought. When a doctrine may be said 
to be above reason, has been already considered, as well as that the doctrine of the 
Trinity is so. We are now, then, to obviate the most popular objection brought 
against that doctrine, namely, that it is absurd and irrational, and that they who 
maintain it must lay aside their reason before they can be induced to believe it ; 
for it assumes either that three are equal to one, which is contrary to the common 
sense of mankind, or that there is a plurality of gods, which is contrary to the first 
principles of the light of nature. Here we are refiected on, as though we demanded 
that our antagonists should lay aside their reason before we argue with them, and 
so make it easy to be seen on which side the argument will preponderate. To make 
way, then, for what may be said in defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, we shall 
in this section. First, consider when a doctrine may be said to be contrary to reason ; 
Secondly, show that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so ; and Thirdly, inquire 
what is the use of reason in establishing it, or any other doctrines which are the 
subject of pure revelation. 

1. First, then, let us inquire when we may conclude that a doctrine is contrary to 
reason. A doctrine may, in a sense, be said to be contrary to reason, when it is 
contrary to the methods of reasoning made use of by particular persons, which are 
not always just ; and it may then not be false or absurd, but rather the contrary. 
It is nothing, therefore, to our present argument, to be asked, with an air of boast- 
ing, by those on the other side of the question, that if the doctrine we are main- 
taining could have been accounted for, how comes it to pass that so many men of 
sense and learning, as are to be found among the Anti-trinitarians, have not been 
able to do it ? We suppose a doctrine to be contrary to reason, only when it con- 
tradicts some of the first principles which the mind of man cannot but yield its 
assent to, — which it receives as soon as it takes in the sense of the words expressing 
them, without demanding any proof. Examples of such principles are, that the 
whole is greater than a part, — that a thing cannot be, and not be, at the same time, 
— and that two is more than one. Or a doctrine is contrary to reason which, when 
any point is proved to be true to a demonstration, is contained in a proposition con- 
tradictory to it, in which the words are taken in the same sense. 

2. We shall now show that the doctrine of the Trinity is not contrary to reason. 
That this may appear, it is to be remarked that we do not say that the three Per- 
sons in the Godhead are one Person, or that the one divine Being is three divine 

It is objected, however, that as reason establishes and proves the imity of the 



Godhead, it is contrary to it to say that the divine nature may be predicated of 
more than one ; for, in that case, there is a plurahty of Gods, and every distinct 
Person must be a distinct God. In other words, it is alleged that the Trinitarian 
doctrine is downright Tritheism, and consequently contrary to reason. Here those 
words of the Athanasian Creed are produced as an instance : " The Father is God, 
the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, yet there are not three Gods, but one 
God; so that the Father is Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eter- 
nal, yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal ; and the Father Almighty, 
the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty, yet there are not three 
Almighties, but one Almighty." These words they suppose, though without 
ground, to contain a plain contradiction. When we say the Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost are God, we do not say they are distinct Gods ; for the distinc- 
tion between them respects their personality, not their deity. When, again, 
we assert that they are all Eternal, or Almighty, we do not suppose that their 
duration or power are distinct. And the same thing maybe said of all other 
divine perfections that are attributed to them : the perfections are the same in all 
of them, though the persons are distinct. The charge of Tritheism thus lies in a 
narrow compass. The Anti-trinitarians say that there is one divine Being ; so do 
we. But they add, that this divine Being is a divine person, since existence and 
personality are the same, and that if there be more divine Persons, there must be 
more Gods. This they maintain ; and this we deny. Now how do they prove it ? 
The proof amounts to no more than this, — that there is no instance in finite things 
— among angels or men, to whom alone personality can be applied — of any distinct 
persons who are not, at the same time, distinct beings. From this it is inferred 
that the case must be the same with respect to the divine Persons. This inference 
we are bound to deny. Our ideas of personality and of existence are not the 
same. How inseparable soever these may be in what respects creatures, we may 
have distinct ideas of them, when we speak of the divine being and personality of tlie 
Father, Son, and Spirit. Here it will, doubtless, be demanded, that we determine 
wherein the diiference consists ; or, in particular, since every distinct finite Person 
is a distinct being, what there is in the divine personality that should exclude the 
Father, Son, and Spirit, from being distinct beings, because distinct Persons. 
Must we then, when we conclude that there is a small or faint resemblance between 
divine and human personality, be able to comprehend, and fully to describe, that 
infinite disproportion which is between them, or else be charged with using words with- 
out any manner of ideas annexed to them, and so let our cause fall to the ground ? 
If, indeed, the divine personality were finite, like that of the creature, it might 
be required that a finite mind should account for it ; but since it is not so, but 
incomprehensible, we are bound to believe what we cannot comprehend. 

But have Ave no ideas at all of the distinct personality of the Father, Son, and 
Spirit? To this we may answer, that we have finite ideas of it, and that only such 
ideas have we of any of the divine perfections. We are taught, by scripture, to 
say that they are distinct Persons. We also know what those personal characters 
or properties, whence our ideas take tlieir rise, signify, when affirmed of men. At 
the same time, we in our thoughts abstract every thing from these characters or 
properties which argues imperfection. In short, in our conceptions of them we 
proceed in the same way, as when we think of any of the perfections of the divine 
nature. These, as well as the divine personality, are incomprehensible. Yet, 
while we say they are infinitely more than can be in any creature, we, notwith- 
standing, retain such ideas of them as tend to answer those ends of religion which 
suppose that we apprehend something of them which is conducive to its exercise. 

3. We are now to consider the use of reason in proving or defending the doctrine 
of the Trinity, or any other doctrines of pure revelation. Though these doctrines 
could not have been discovered by reason, nor can every thing that is revealed be 
comprehended by it ; yet reason is not to be laid aside as useless, and has been 
called by some a servant to faith. While revelation discovers what doctrines we 
are to believe, and demands our assent to them, I'eason off'ers a convincing proof that 
we are under an indispensable obligation to give it — it proves the doctrine to be true 
and sucli as is worthy of God, as it is derived from him, the fountain of truth and 


wisdom. This office of reason, or the subserviencj of it to our faith, is certainly 
necessary ; for what is false cannot be the object of faith in general, and nothing 
unworthy of God can be the matter of divine revelation or the object of a divine 

Now, in order to reason's judging of the truth of things, it first considers the 
sense of words, what ideas are designed to be conveyed by them, and whether these 
are .contrary to the common sense of mankind. It then proceeds to inquire into 
those evidences that may give conviction, and enforce our belief of the ideas, and 
leads us into the nature of the truths revealed, receives them as stamped with the 
authority of God, and considers them as agreeable to his perfections. It also leads 
us into his design in revealing them, and what we are to infer from them ; and in 
doing this, it connects things together, shows their importance, and observes the 
dependence of one upon another, and how they are to be improved to answer the 
best purposes. Now this office of reason may be performed in particular with re- 
gard to the doctrine of the Trinity. That doctrine, as has been already proved, 
contains in it no absurdity contradictory to reason ; and the evidences on which 
our faith in it is founded, will be farther considered when, by the express words of 
scripture, or by just consequences deduced from them, we prove it to be a doctrine 
of revelation, agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost. The proofs which w6 shaU 
then adduce will make it farther appear, that it is necessary for us to use our rea- 
son in stating those doctrines which neither are founded on it, nor can be compre- 
hended by it. 

Whence the Doctrine of the Trinity is to be deduced. 

We shall now consider whence the doctrine of the Trinity is to be deduced, or 
where we are to search for that knowledge of it in which we are to acquiesce. Here 
it must be observed, that it cannot be learnt from the light of nature ; for then 
we should certainly be able to behold some traces of it in the works of creation 
and providence, and, reasoning from the effect to the cause, should understand it 
from them, as well as the power, wisdom, and goodness of God. We should never 
have known that God made all things by his essential word, 'without whom,' as the 
evangelist says,'? ' was not anything made that was made,' had we not been told so 
by divine revelation. In like manner we should never have known that the Spirit, 
as a distinct Person from the Father, created all things, and performed several 
other works by which his personal glory is demonstrated, had we not been instructed 
on the subject by scripture. The light of nature could discover to us, indeed, that 
God, who is a Spirit, or an incorporeal Being, has produced many effects worthy 
of himself ; but we could not have known by it that the word ' Spirit ' signifies a 
distinct person, — a doctrine for which we are indebted to divine revelation. As for 
the work of our redemption, in which, more than in all the other divine works, the 
personal glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit is demonstrated, we could have 
known as little of that, by the light of nature, as we do of the Persons to whom it 
is attributed. 

It will, I am aware, be objected, that our first parents knew the doctrine of the 
Trinity, as soon as they were created, else they could not have given that dis- 
tinct glory to the Persons in the Godhead that is due to them, — that if we are re- 
quired not only to worship the Divine Being, but to worship the Father, Son, and 
Spii'it, and if this worship is due from us as creatures, and not merely as fallen and 
redeemed, it follows that our first parents must have known the doctrine of the 
Trinity ; and they knew it not by divine revelation, but by the light of nature. 
Now we will concede every thing in this objection, except that they did not know the 
doctrine by divine revelation. They certainly had some ideas conveyed to them at 
first by revelation, else they could not have known anything that related to insti- 
tuted worship, — which, it is plain, they did. And shall it be reckoned any absur- 
dity to suppose that they received the doctrine of the Trinity by divine revelation, 
though in the short history which Moses gives us of things relating to the state of 

p John i. 3. 
I- T 


innocency, we have no particular account of their having so received it ? It is suf- 
ficient to our purpose to suppose that it was agreeable to the wisdom and goodness 
of God to make known to them this important truth, and that, in consequence, he 
actually did so, though not by the light of nature. 

It is farther objected, that, as appears by their writings, the heathen, though 
they were unacquainted with scripture, knew something of the doctrine of the Trin- 
ity. To support this objection, reference is made to several mystical expressions 
in the works of Plato, when he speaks of three principles, which seem to look in 
the direction of the doctrine. One of the three principles of which he speaks, 
he calls goodness, or a being that is good ; the second he calls his word, or reason ; 
and the third a spirit, which diffuses its influence throughout the whole system of 
beings, and which he sometimes calls ' the soul of the world.' In other passages, 
he speaks of them as having a distinct sovereignty. i He supposes the first to be 
the cause of things most great and excellent ; the second, the cause of things of au 
inferior nature ; the third, tlie cause of tilings yet more inferior. And, some of 
his followers plainly call them ' three hypostases,' and sometimes, ' Father,' ' Word,' 
and ' Spirit.' Now, the account which Plato and his followers seem to have given 
of the doctrine of the Trinity, does not appear to have been taken from the light 
of nature ; so that it afi'ords no countenance to the principle of the objection. We 
have suflicient ground to conclude that Plato travelled into Egypt with a design 
to make improvements in knowledge ; and some suppose that he saw there a trans- 
lation of part of the Bible into Greek,"^ more ancient than that which is common- 
ly attributed to the LXX, which was not compiled till a hundred years after his 
time. Whether he did this, or not, is uncertain. It is not to be doubted, how- 
ever, that he used several expressions which are contained in the books of Moses, 
and that he took thence the plan of his laws. On this account some have called him 
'a second Moses, speaking Greek.' But whether he received his notions imme- 
diately from scripture, or by conversation with the Jews, of whom a great number 
settled in Egypt after Gedaliah's death, is not material. It is sufficiently evident 
that he did not obtain all his notions, in a way of reasoning, from the light of na- 
ture. As for his followers, such as Plotinus, I*roclus, Porphyry, and others, 
though none of them pretended to be Christians, and one of them was an inveter- 
ate enemy to Christianity, they lived in those ages when Christianity prevailed in 
the world ; and they may well be supposed to have made their master Plato speak 
several things, as to the mystery of the Trinity, which he never intended, were it 
only to persuade the Christians that he was not inferior to Moses or any other hero 
of the scripture. 

Having answered objections, we shall take leave to notice the incautiousness 
of some divines who have defended the doctrine of the Trinity. They have not 
only asserted that Plato understood a great deal of it, but have made use of this 
alleged fact as an answer to the Anti-trinitarian objection formerly mentioned, that 
the doctrine of the Trinity is unintelligible ; and they have taken a great deal of 
pleasure in accounting for the doctrine, in such ways as the philosophers have 
done.® Some of them have taken notice of a few dark hints which they have met 
with in some of the poetical fictions, and have thence concluded that there was 
something of the Trinity known, even by the heathen in general. Thus when the 
word ' Three ' is mentioned by tlie poets, and applied to some things which they 
relate concerning their Gods, or when they speak of God's delighting in an unequal 
number, or in the number ' Three,' they are supposed to have had some confused 
notion of the Trinity. This matter, however, is too gross to be particularly men- 
tioned ; for it might give us an unbecoming idea of this divine mystery, or of those 
who have better arguments to defend it. The reflection which I would make on it 
is, that what has been called an advantage to the doctrine, has been certainly very 
detrimental to it, and, as a late learned divine observes, has tended only to pervert 
the simplicity of the Christian faith with mixtures of philosophy and vain deceit.* 
I doubt not but the apostle had an eye to it, among other corruptions, which they 

q Vid. Epist. 2. ad Dionys. r Vid. Euseh. Prep. Evang. lib. xiii. cap. 12. s Vid. Huet. 

Concord. Ration, and Fid. lib. ii. cap. 3. t See Dr. Berriinaii's Historical Account, &c. page 94. 


who were attached to the heathen philosophy had begun to bring into their scheme 
of divinity, and which others would notoriously introduce in after-ages, when he 
said, ' Beware, lest any man spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit, after 
the ti-adition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.'" This 
corruption so much prevailed, that it has given occasion to some of the Anti-trini- 
tarians to reproacli the doctrine of the Trinity, as though it were a system of Plato- 
nism ; and the fondness of the early Christian writers for using Plato's words, in ex- 
plaining the doctrine of the Trinity, has given occasion for some of them to be 
suspected as having been unfavourable to the scripture account of it. Adversaries 
have, in consequence, laid claim to them as their own ; and have produced some 
unwary expressions out of Justin Martyr, and others, to allege that they were 
favourable to the Arian scheme, though, in other parts of their writings, they ap- 
pear remote from it. 

This leads us to consider that some divines have- used similitudes to explain the 
doctrine of the Trinity. These, at best, tend only to illustrate, and not to prove a 
doctrine. We can hardly make use of them for illustrating the doctrine of the 
Trinity without conveying some ideas which are unbecoming it, if not subversive 
of it ; and while we pretend to explain that which is in itself inexplicable, we do 
no service to the truth. I shall here give a short specimen, that we may see how 
some have unwarily weakened the cause which they have been maintaining. Some 
have taken a similitude from three of the divine perfections. They say that there 
are three invisibles of God, power, wisdom, and goodness, and that power creates, 
wisdom governs, and goodness conserves ; and so they have gone on to explain this 
doctrine, till they have almost given it into the hands of the Sabellians. Indeed, 
they might have instanced in more divine perfections than three, had it been to 
their purpose. Again, otliers have explained this doctrine, by some resemblance 
which they apprehend to be found of it in man ; and they speak of the soul, as a 
principle of a threefold life, rational, sensitive, and vegetative. Others speak of 
three causes concurring to produce the same effect, the efficient, the constitutive, 
and the final cause. Others have taken their similitude from inanimate things,- — 
as the sun, in which there are light, heat, and motion, which are inseparably con- 
nected together, and tend to produce the same effects. Others, again, illustrate 
the doctrine by a similitude taken from a fountain ; in which there is the spring in 
the bowels of the earth, the water bubbling out of the earth, and the stream diffus- 
ing itself in a perpetual course, receiving all it communicates from the fountain, 
I am sorry there is occasion to caution any against this method of explaining the 
doctrine of the Trinity. But these, and many other similitudes of a similar nature, 
we find in the writings of some, who consider not what an advantage they give to 
the common enemy. There are, indeed, in most of the similitudes, three things, 
which are said, in different respects, to be one. But all the similitudes brought to 
illustrate this doctrine, lead us to think of the whole divided into those parts of 
which it consists. Writers notice these parts as three in number ; or they speak 
of three properties of the same thing. And if their wit and fancy saw it needful 
to speak of more than three, the same method of illustration would serve their pur- 
pose, as much as it does the end for which they bring it. I would, therefore, con- 
clude this head, by using the words of God to Job, ' Who is this that darkeneth 
counsel by words without knowledge V^ Who are these that, by pretending to 
illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity by similitudes, do that, which, though very 
foreign to their design, tends to pervert it ? 

Expository Rules respecting the Doctrine of the Trinity. 

We shall now consider what general rules may be observed for our understand- 
ing those scriptures on which our faith, with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, 
is founded. Since it is a doctrine of pure revelation, as has been before observed, 
we must keep close to scripture, to the very words where they are express and 
distinct on the subject, and to consequences deduced from them so far as these are 

u Col. ii. 8. X Job xxxviii. 2. 


just and self-evident. At the same time, while we are sensible that we cannot 
comprehend this mystcrj, we must take care that we pretend not to be wise above 
what is revealed. Now there are some rules, which may be of use to us in our in- 
quiries into the sense of scripture concerning this doctrine. 

1. We must not suppose that the words of scripture, relating to it, are to be taken 
in a sense which can be known bj none but critics, as though it were designed to 
be understood only by them, or as if the unlearned part of tlie world should be left 
in the dark, or led astray as to several things whicli it contains. We are not to 
suppose, for example, that we are at a loss as to the proper sense of the word ' God ;* 
or that we can hardly know how to direct our faith and worship founded on it with- 
out the help of criticism, or that we shall be led to ascribe divine honour where it 
is not due, for want of being acquainted with some distinctions concerning one that 
may be called God by nature, or the supreme God, and others who may be called 
God by office, or subordinate Gods. Nor is it incumbent on us that either we must 
be able to distinguish concerning different kinds of worship ; or instead of honour- 
ing the Son as we honour the Father, we must give him an inferior kind of divine 
worship, short of what is due to the Father. For such worship as this, we have not 
scripture warrant ; nor are we led by the scriptures to have any notion of a middle 
being between God and the creature, or one that is not properly God, as the Father 
is, and yet more than a creature, as though there were a medium between finite 
and infinite ; nor are we led by scripture to conceive of any being, that has an 
eternal duration, whose eternity is supposed to be before time, and yet not the same 
with the eternal duration of the Father. These things we shall have occasion to 
mention in their proper place. We need, therefore, make no farther mention of 
them at present ; but may only observe, how unintelligible the scripture would be 
in what relates to the doctrine of the Trinity, if the words had not a plain and de- 
terminate sense, so that we should require to make use of such methods of reasoning 
in order to arrive at the meaning of them. 

2. If some divine perfections are attributed in scripture to the Son and Spirit, all 
the perfections of the divine nature, by reason of their simplicity and unity, ^ may, 
by a just consequence, be proved to belong to them. Hence, if we can prove, from 
scripture, that they have ascribed to them some perfections which are properly 
divine, — which, I hope, it will not be a difficult matter to do, — we are not to suppose 
that our argument is defective, or that the doctrine of the Trinity is not sufficiently 
maintained, though wc cannot produce a scripture to prove every perfection of the 
divine nature to be ascribed to them. 

3. When any thing is mentioned, in scripture, concerning our Saviour, or the Holy 
Spirit, which argues an inferiority to the Father, it is to be understood consistently 
with other scriptures, which speak of their having the same divine nature ; for 
scripture does not, in the least, contradict itself. How the two classes of texts on 
this subject are to be understood, will be farther considered under a following head. 

4. If we have sufficient arguments to convince us of the truth of the doctrine of 
the Trinity, our faith ought not to be shaken though we cannot fully understand 
the sense of some scriptures, which are brought to oppose it. Not that we are to 
suppose that the scripture gives countenance to two opposite doctrines ; but a person 
may be fully satisfied concerning the sense of those scriptures, which contain the 
doctrine of the Trinity, and yet not be supposed per;ectly to understand the mean- 
ing of every word, or phrase, used in scripture, or of some particular texts, which 
are sometimes brought to support the contrary doctrine ; so that objections may be 
brought, which he is not able readily to reply to. Shall he, therefore, deny the 
truth, because he cannot remove all the difficulties that seem to lie in the way of 
it ? That would be to part with it at too easy a rate ; and when he has done this, 
he will find greater difficulties attending the contrary scheme of doctrine. Do 
Anti-trinitarians object that we believe things contrary to reason, because we as- 
sert the incomprehensibleness of divine mysteries? or that we are Tritheists, because 
we believe that there are three Persons in the Godhead, and cannot exactly deter- 
mine the difierence between divine and human personality ? We could, on the other 

y See page 131 — 3. 


hand, point at some difficulties, that they cannot easily surmount. What shall we 
think of their giving divine worship to our Saviour, when, at the same time, they 
deny him to have those perfections that denominate him God in the same sense as 
the Father ? The Socinians lound it very difficult, when the matter was disputed 
among themselves, as to their worshipping him whose deity they denied, to recon- 
cile their practice with their sentiments. The Arians will find that this objection 
equally affects their scheme ; and it will be no less difficult for them to reconcile 
Christ's character, as Redeemer, Governor of the world. Judge of quick and dead, 
with their low ideas of him, when denying his proper deity. These things we only 
mention occasionally atpresent, that it may not be thought that the doctrine of the 
Trinity is exposed to greater difficulties than the contrary doctrine ; and that they 
who are not furnished with all those qualifications which are necessary for its de- 
fence, may not reckon those arguments, by which they have been convinced of the 
truth of it, less valid, because they are not able, at present, to answer all objections 
that may be brought against them. 

5. The weight of several arguments taken from scripture to prove the doctrine of 
tlie Trinity, is to be considered as well as the arguments themselves. We do not 
pretend that every one of them is equally conclusive. There are some which are 
often brought to support it, which we can lay no great stress upon ; and these we 
shall omit to mention, lest we should give occasion to the adversary to insult, or 
conclude that we take anything for an argument that has been brought as such to 
prove this doctrine. We will not pretend to prove, therefore, or peremptorily to 
determine, that the doctrine of the Trinity is contained in those words of the 
psalmist, ' By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of 
them by the breath of his mouth. '^ Nor will we pretend to prove this doctrine 
from the threefold repetition of the word ' Jehovah,' in the form of a benediction 
to be used by the High Priest, ' The Lord bless thee, and keep thee ; the Lord 
make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee ; the Lord lift up his 
countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. ''^ Nor do we lay any stress on the 
threefold repetition of the word, ' Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts ;''^ though 
we shall show, in its proper place, that there are several things in the context 
which evidently prove this doctrine. Yet if, together with arguments that are 
more conclusive, we, at any time, bring some that are less so, we may at least 
infer that the scripture way of speaking is consistent with the doctrine of the 
Trinity in places that do not so directly prove it. This we have thought proper 
to mention, because it is a very common thing for those who cannot answer the 
most weighty arguments that are brought to support a doctrine, to bend their 
greatest lorce against those which have the least strength, and then to triumph as 
though they had gained the victory, when they have done it only in what respects 
that which is less material. 

Definition of Terms on the Subject of the Trinity. 

We shall now consider in what sense we are to understand the words ' Trinity* 
and ' Persons in the Godhead ;' and in what respect the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, are said to be one. The word ' Trinity' is not to be found in scripture, yet 
what we understand by it is plainly contained in it. W^e therefore use the word as 
agreeable to scripture. Thus we read that there .are ' three that bear record in 
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost,' and that ' these three are 
one.'*' The three here mentioned are Persons, because they are described by per- 
sonal characters. We shall take occasion elsewhere, when we prove the Deity of 
the Son and Spirit, to consider their being one, that is, their having the same 
nature. This subject we shall waive at present, as we are considering only the 
sense of words commonly used by us in treating of the doctrine. 

All contending parties, however they have explained the word 'Trinity,' have, in 
compliance with custom, used the word, and have so far defined it as to understand 
by it ' three, who are, in some respect, one. ' Some writers, however, have not cared to 

z Psul. xxxiii. 6. a Num. vi. 24 — 2G. b Isa. vi. 3. c 1 John v. 7- 


use tlie word ' person ;' or if thej have, it is without the most known and proper 
idea contained in it. The Sabellians, for example, whenever they use the word, 
intend nothing by it but three relations, which may be attributed to the same 
person, as when the same person may be called a father, a son, and a brother, in 
different respects ; or as when he that, at one time, sustains the person of a judge, 
may, at another time, sustain that of an advocate. This is what some call a 
Trinity of names ; and they might as well have declined to use the words altogether, 
as to explain them in this sense. Again, the Arians use the word 'person.' They 
have run, however, into another extreme ; and while they avoid Sabellianism, they 
would lay themselves open to the charge of Tritheism, did they not deny the 
proper deity of the Son and Spirit. They suppose that every distinct Person is a 
distinct being, agreeably to the sense of personality as applied to men. This sense 
of the word, however, as has been already considered, is to be abstracted from the 
idea of personality, when applied to the Persons in the Godhead. The Arians 
also understand the oneness of the divine Persons in a sense agreeable to their 
own scheme, and different from ours : they speak of them as one in will, consent, 
or design, — in which respect, God and the creature may be said to be one. Accord- 
ingly, Arius and his adherents, in the council at Nice, refused to allow that the 
divine Persons were 'Ofcoaufioi consubstantial, and, with a great many evasions and 
subterfuges, attempted to conceal their sentiments. All that they could be brought 
to own was, that the Sou was 'O/ta/of, or 'O/Aoiavfioc, which amounts to no more than 
this, — that whatever likeness there may be, in some respects, yet he has not the 
same proper divine nature with the Father and Holy Ghost. 

We are now led to consider the sense in which the word ' person ' is generally 
used by those who defend vrhat we think to be the scripture-doctrine of the Trin- 
ity. There are some, it is true, both among ancient and modern writers, who at- 
tempt to explain what they mean by the word ' person,' who are so unhappy as to 
leave the sense of it more dark than they found it : they define it, agreeably to 
the usages of metaphysicians and schoolmen, to this effect, — that it is a suppositiim, 
endowed with reason, — or that it is one entire, individual, incommunicable, ration- 
al subsistence. Others, when they define Pei'sonality, tell us, that it is a positive 
mode of a being, terminating and completing its substantial nature, and giving 
incommunicability to it, — words which need to be explained more than the thing 
defined by them. Here I cannot but take notice of that warm debate which 
there was between the Greek and Latin church about the words ' Hypostasis ' 
and 'Persona.' The Latin church concluding that the word 'Hypostasis' 
signified substance or essence, thought that to assert that there were three divine 
Hypostases, was to say that there were three Gods. On the other hand, the Greek 
church thought that the word 'Persona' did not sufficiently guard against the 
Sabellian notion, of the same being sustaining three relations. On these 
grounds, each part of the chuich was ready to brand the other with heresy ; 
till, by a free and mutual conference, in a synod at Alexandria, a. d. 362, they 
made it appear, that their dispute was but a contention about the grammatical 
sense of a word. It was then allowed, by men of temper on both sides, that the 
two words might be indifferently used.*^ But what signifies the use of them, when 
perplexed with the scholastic explications of them ? These have given occasion to 
some whose sentiments have been very conflicting as to the doctrine of the Trinity, 
to express themselves with some dislike. On the one hand, the Socinians, and 
some among the Remonstrants who made very great advances towards their scheme, 
such as, Curcellseus, Episcopius, and others,'^ have complained that this doctrine 
was clouded with hard words ; and, though their design might be to substitute 
such words as would make the remedy worse than the disease, their complaint is 
not altogether groundless. On the other hand, some who have embraced the doc- 
trine of the Trinity, would not have liked its advocates the worse, had they chosen 
to have defended it in a more plain and intelligible manner. Calvin himself wishes 
that some words which are so warmly opposed and defended on each side, were al- 

a Vid. Forbes. Instruct. Hist. Theol. lib. i. cap. 2. § 8. b Vid. Curcell. in Quatern. Dissert, 

de Voc. Trinit. Persoiiae, &c. 


together laid aside and buried, provided that such might be retained as express 
our faith in the doctrine of the Father, Son, and Spirit, being the one God, but 
distinguished by their personal properties. *= This is that plain sense of the word 
' person ' which I shall make use of, in what I shall attempt to lay down in its de- 

We never call any thing a person that is not endowed with understanding and 
will. The most glorious inanimate creatures, either in heaven or earth, whatever 
excellencies they have, or how useful soever they are to the world, are not persons. 
When the sun is described as though it were a person, and is compared to ' a bride- 
groom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race,'*^ 
the words are never understood in any other but a metaphorical sense. So ' be- 
hemoth ' and the 'leviathan,' mentioned in Job, being no other than brute crea- 
tures, are described with personal characters, in the same figurative way of speak- 
ing. We always suppose a person to have an understanding and will. Again, 
whenever, ' 1,' ' Thou,' and ' He,' are applied to any subject, they always denote a 
person, — ' I,' a person speaking ; ' Thou,' a person spoken to ; and ' He,' or ' Him,' 
a person spoken of. When such modes of speaking are sometimes applied to things 
that are destitute of reason, or to any moral virtues or principles of acting, which, 
from the nature of the thing, cannot be denominated persons, they are very easily 
understood in a figurative sense ; and this may, without any difficulty, be distin- 
guished from the proper sense, whereby those who are so denoted are denominated 
persons. There are also some characters which always denote persons, and some 
works performed which are properly personal, and can be performed by none but 
persons. Thus a father, or a son, a Creator, a Redeemer, a benefactor, a Media- 
tor, an advocate, a surety, a judge, a lord, a lawgiver, and many others of a simi- 
lar nature, are all personal characters. Hence, whoever acts with design, and has 
such characters attributed to him, we call, according to the proper acceptation of 
the word, a person. These characters we shall endeavour to apply to the Persons in 
the Godhead, to prove their distinct personality. But since we are at present con- 
sidering only the acceptation of words, we shall briefly observe the diii'erence be- 
tween a divine and a human pex'son, when some personal properties, characters, or 
works, are attributed to each of them. 

Human persons are separated one from the other. Thus, Peter, James, and 
John, were three persons, but they were separated one from the other. On the 
other hand, the Persons in the Godhead, however distinguished by their char- 
acters and properties, are never separated, as having the same divine essence or 
nature. As for human persons, one of them might have had a being and person- 
ality had the other never existed, because it exists by the will of God. But the 
divine Persons have a necessary existence and personality, as being, in all respects, 
independent ; so that as they could not but be God, they could not but be divine 
Persons. The personality of the Son and the Spirit are equally independent with 
that of the Father, and as much independent as their being and divine perfections. — 
Again, human persons have only the same kind of nature, which is generally called 
a common specific nature, but not the same individual nature with another person. 
Though every man has a nature like that of the rest of mankind, yet the human 
nature, as attributed to one person, is not the same individual human nature that 
is attributed to another ; for then the power and act of reasoning, or the ideas that 
there are in one man, would be the same power and the same individual ideas 
that are in another. But when we speak of the Persons in the Godhead as having 
the divine nature and perfections, we say that this nature is the same individual 
nature in all of them, tliough the Persons are distinct ; otherwise the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost, could not be said to be truly and properly God, and to 
have the same understanding, will, and other perfections of the divine nature. — 
Further, when we speak of human persons, we say that as many persons as 
there are, so many beings there are. Every human person has its own proper be- 
ing, distinct from all other persons or beings. But we do not say so with respect 
to the divine Persons ; for the divine Being is but one, and the Godhead of the 

c Vid. Calv. Institut. lib. i. rap. 13. § 5. d Psal. xix. 5. 


Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the very same. This is what we understand 
when we say, that though there are three Persons in the Godhead, yet they are 
the same in substance, or the one only living and true God. 

This leads us to consider in what respect the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are 
said to be one. By this we mean that the Son and Holy Ghost have all the per- 
fections of the divine nature, in the same sense as the Father has. To say less 
than this, is to assert no more than what our adversaries will allow. They will 
not deny them perfections, nor would they be thought to deny them to have divine 
perfections ; yea, many of them will not stick to say, that they are truly and pro- 
perly God, — by which they mean, that whatever deity is attributed to them in 
scripture, by the appointment of the Father, that is, whatever divine authority 
they have, properly belongs to them. I think, however, that none of them will allow 
that they have the divine nature in the same sense in which the Father is said to 
have it. This is what we shall endeavour to prove ; and more than this needs not 
be said in order to establish that the same supreme worship is due to the Sou 
and the Spirit, as to the Father. In order to this, we shall consider the force of 
those arguments contained in one of the Answers, and, together with them, the 
sense of that scripture, in which our Saviour says, ' I and my Father are one ;'® 
as also that scripture ' the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, who bear record 
in heaven, are one.'*^ But the consideration of these we shall reserve to a follow- 
ing head. 

As to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost being ' equal in power and glory,' we 
may observe, that there are two expressions, which we often use, to set forth the 
deity of the Son and Spirit : we sometimes say that they are God, equal with the 
Father, — at other times, that they have the same essential perfections. Some 
may, perhaps, reply, that if they are equal, they cannot be the same ; or, on the 
other hand, if they are the same, they cannot be equal. Now, for understanding 
what we mean by such expressions, let it be observed, that when we consider them 
as having the divine essence, or any of its perfections, we choose to describe them, 
not as equal, but as the same. We, for example, do not say that the wisdom, 
power, or holiness, of the Son and Spirit, is equal to the same perfection as as- 
cribed to the Father. But when we speak of them as distinct Persons, then we 
consider them as equal. The essential glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit, is 
the same ; but their personal glory is equal. In this sense we would be under- 
stood, when we say the Son and Holy Ghost are each of them God, or divine Per- 
sons, equal with the Father. 

We shall now, by applying what has been observed as to the meaning of the 
word 'person,' prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct Persons 
in the Godhead, and we shall add something concerning those personal properties 
mentioned in one of the Answers we are explaining with respect to the eternal 
generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost. 

The Personality of the Son. 

As to the personality of the Son, inasmuch as the Arians and Socinians never yet 
called it in question, we own that it is not necessary, when we dispute with 
them, to prove it. The Sabellians, however, deny it ; and also a late writer,^ who 
plainly gives in to their scheme, and concludes the Son of God to be no other than 
the eternal reason of God. Accordingly, he thus renders John i. 1. 'In the begin- 
ning was the word,' that is, reason, 'and by him,' that is, by it, 'were all things 
made.' And when it is objected, that this mode of speaking signifies nothing more 
than a quality in God, the only answer that he gives is, that it signifies no more a 
quality, than if we should translate it, ' The Word,' as is generally done. Now if 
persons, whether they pretend to be Sabellians or not, express themselves in such a 
manner, it is necessary for us to prove the personality of the Son. " We shall, there- 
fore, state two arguments to show that the Son is a distinct Person from the 

e John X. 30. f 1 John v. 7. g See Le Cleic's Supplement to Dr. Hammond on the 

New Testament, preface to John i. 


1. We often read, in scripture, of two divine Persons speaking to or of one another, 
the distinguishing personal characters, 'I,' ' Thou,' and 'He,' being applied to 
them. Thus it is said, ' The Lord, ' that is, the Father, ' said unto my Lord, ' namely, 
the Son, ' Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. ' ^^ This 
may be observed throughout the whole psalm. Thus, ' Thy people shall be Avill- 
ing;'' and 'He,' meaning the Son, 'shall judge among the heathen;'*' and ' He 
shall drink of the brook in the way.'' So, in another psalm, speaking of the Son, 
' Thou art fairer than the children of men ;' and ' Thy throne, God, is for ever 
and ever.'™ The places of scripture where we have such modes of speaking con- 
cerning the Son, ai"e almost innumerable. We, therefore, proceed to consider that, 

2. Other personal characters are given him. Thus, when he is called the Son of 
God, whatever we are to understand by that relation or character, (of whicli more 
shall be said under a following head,) it certainly denotes him a Person distinct 
from the Father. His being sent into the world by the Father, which is frequently 
affirmed of him in the New Testament, also proves this ; for a quality, relation, or 
property, cannot be said to be sent, as the Son is. So when he is described as a 
Redeemer, a Mediator, a Surety, a Creator, and when he is styled, by the prophet, 
the everlasting Father, and often described as a Prophet, Priest, or King, and 
when he is called, ' Lord of all,' or 'the Prince of peace,' or 'the Prince of the kings 
of the earth,' all these characters sufficiently prove his personality. All those 
works likewise which he performs, as sustaining these relations or characters, are 
properly personal ; and some of them are never ascribed to any other person. 
Thus the Father, or Holy Ghost, are never said to assume the human nature, or 
to become sureties for the salvation of men, or to execute mediatorial offices. 
From all these considerations it evidently appears, that the Son is a distinct Per- 
son. That he is a divine Person, will be proved under a following head ; and ob- 
jections to his personality will be answered along with those to the personality of 
the Holy Ghost. 

The Personality of the Holy Spirit. 

The distinct personality of the Holy Ghost is denied, not only by the Sabellians, 
but by some of the Socinians. Socinus himself denies it. He describes the Holy 
Ghost as the power of God, — intending hereby, as his mode of speaking seems to 
denote, the energy of the divine nature, or that whereby the Father, who is the 
only one to whom, according to him, the divine nature is attributed, produces those 
effects which required infinite power. The Socinians, accordingly, call the Spirit, 
the power of God essentially considered. They set aside all those proois that may 
be produced from scripture to evince his personality, — proofs which are so plain 
and evident, that many of them have, in this particular, dissented from Socinus, 
and owned the Spirit to be a Person. Accordingly some of them, while they deny 
his divine nature, have described him as the chief of created Spirits, or the Head 
of the Angels. A bold writer expresses himself thus : "I believe that there is one 
principal Minister of God and Christ, peculiarly sent from heaven, to sanctify the 
church, who, by reason of his eminency and intimacy with God, is singled out of 
the number of the other heavenly Ministers, or Angels, and comprised in the holy 
Trinity, being the third Person thereof ; and that this Minister of God and Christ 
is the Holy Spirit."" 

We shall prove the Personality of the Holy Ghost, by considering some personal 
characters ascribed to him, and works performed by him. There are several such 
characters, by which he is denominated a Person. When, in particular, he is called 
a Sanctifier, a Reprover, a AVitness, a Comforter, it evidently appears that he is a 
Person. It is said, that 'when he,' that is, 'the Comforter, is come, he will reprove 
the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment ;' and also, that 'he will guide 
you into all truth ; he will show you things to come,'** &c. In one passage, the distinct 
personality of the three Persons, and particularly of the Holy Spirit, is asserted : ' I 

h Psal. ex. 1. i Ver, 3. k Ver. 6. 1 Ver. 7. m Psal. xlv. 2, 6. ii See Biddle's 
Confession of Faith, louching the Holy Trinity, Article VI. o John xvi. 8, 13. 

I. U 


will praj the Father, and lie shall give jou another Comforter, even the Spirit of 
truth ;' and ' Tlie Comforter, wliich is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in 
my name, he shall teach you all things/™ Now, it is certain, that to teach, or to 
instruct, is a personal character. . So also is to speak or to dictate to another what 
he should saj, and this the Holy Ghost is said by our Saviour to his disciples to 
do : ' Whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye ; for it is not ye 
that speak, but the Holy Ghost.'" Moreover, to witness, or testify, is a personal 
character, when the testimony is not merely objective, as when Job calls his 
' wrinkles ' and his ' leanness ' a witness against him." When there is a formal 
testimony given, he that gives it is, according to our common way of speaking, 
generally considered a person. And thus the Holy Ghost is described : ' We are 
his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to 
them that obey him.'P Here the Holy Ghost being a witness, is as much a personal 
character as their being witnesses. And it is also said, ' The Holy Ghost witnesseth 
in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me, 'i Again, dwelling is a per- 
sonal character. No one ever supposes that anything that is in a house dwells there, 
excepting persons. But the Holy Ghost is said to dwell in believers f and, allud- 
ing to this, it is also said: ' Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.'® As a 
house is the dwelling-place of a person, so a temple is the dwelling-place of a divine 
person. Again, to send any one is a personal character. But this also is attributed 
to the Holy Ghost: The apostles 'being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed.'' 
Again, acting with a sovereign will and pleasure, is what belongs only to a person ; 
and this is applied to the Holy Ghost : ' It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to 
us.'" Again, prohibiting or forbidding a person to act, is a personal character. 
This likewise is applied to the Holy Ghost : The apostles ' were forbidden of the 
Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia!* Again, to constitute or appoint any one 
to execute an otfice, is a personal character. This the Holy Ghost is said to have 
done, when he made the elders of Ephesus overseers of the flock.y There are 
several other personal works and characters, which might have been mentioned ; 
but these are, I humbly conceive, sufficient to prove that the Holy Ghost is a 
Person. I have no more than mentioned the scriptures which exhibit these per- 
sonal characters ; because I shall have occasion, under a following head, to refer 
to some of them for the proof of his Deity. 

It will be objected, by those who are favourers of the Sabellian scheme, that the 
characters which we have laid down to prove the personality of the Son, and Holy 
Ghost, are not sufficient to answer that end ; for they are often applied, in a meta- 
phorical way, to those things which no one supposes to be persons, and may be 
taken in this sense -when applied to the Son and Spirit. To support this objection, 
they produce several instances out of the book of Job, and some other parts of 
scripture, where things which are not really persons are described with personal 
characters. Thus, speaking concerning the unicorn, it is said, ' Wilt thou trust 
him ? Wilt thou leave thy labour to him ? W^ilt thou believe him, that he will bring 
home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn V^ So, concerning the horse, as though 
he acted with design as an intelligent creature, it is said, ' He goeth on to meet 
the armed men ; he mocketh at fear ; neither believeth he that it is the sound of 
the trumpet; he saith among the trumpets. Ha! hal'^ Concerning the eagle, 
' She dwelleth on the rock.'^ And concerning the leviathan, ' Will he make many 

m John xivj 16, 17, 26. Some have thought that txuvos, being of the masculine gender, because 
it refers immediately to rrnvfia, which is of the neuter, implies, that the Spirit is taken personally, 
which is the reason of this grammatical construction. But if it l)e said that the reason why it is 
masculine is, because it agrees with ■m^ax.Xnro; . it notwithstanding proves the personality of the 
Holv Ghost, since a comforter is a pc tsohhI character. The same tiling is observed in the gram- 
matic'ril construction of Ephes. i. 13, 14, which, speaking concerning the Holy Spirit of promise, 
re Tiivf/,a TYti I'TttyyiXiois, sfiyi, i/rriv a^pafiMv, This denotes tlie personal character of the Spirit; 
otherwise it would have been i la-nv ee^pafiuv, — uidess you could suppose eg to agree with a^'paP>ut, 
which si-ems to h' a more strained sense of the grammatical construction than the other which 
proves his personality. 

n Mark xiii; 11. o Job xvi. 8. p Acts v. 32. q Acts xx. 23. 

J- Joliri xiv. 17. s 1 Cor. vi. 19, t Acts xiii. 4, u Acts xv. 28. 

X Acts xvi, C. y Acts xx. 28, z Job x\xix, 11, 12. a Yer. 21 &c. 

b Ver 28. 


supplications unto thee ? "Will he speak soft words unto thee ? "Will he make a 
covenant with thee ? He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. Darts 
are counted as stubble ; he laugheth at the shaking of the spear ; he beholdeth all 
hio-h thino-s ; he is a king over all the children of pride. '"^ There are many other 
personal characters given to brute creatures, which are taken in a metaphorical 
sense ; and sometimes they are applied to inanimate creatures. Thus, ' Hath the 
rain a father ? or who hatli begotten the drops of dew ? out of whose womb came 
the ice ? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it ? Canst thou bind 
the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion ? Canst thou bring 
forth Mazzaroth in his season, or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons V^ By 
this description nothing is intended but the signs in the zodiac, or some of the 
constellations, together with the particular stars of which they consist ; yet these 
are described as though they were persons. So, ' Canst thou send lightnings, 
that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are ?'® Again, the powers and facul- 
ties of the soul of man have sometimes personal characters ascribed to them. Thus 
conscience is said to 'bear witness.'^ And some instances may be brought from 
scripture of a person's speaking to himself ; yet these do not prove that there are 
two persons in man, one speaking, and the other spoken to. It is therefore in- 
ferred, that we cannot prove the personality of the Son and Holy Ghost from those 
personal characters ascribed to them ; which may be taken in a metaphorical 
sense, as well as in the instances now mentioned. 

In answer to this objection, several things may be considered. 1. Though the 
scripture often uses figurative, and particularly metaphorical, ways of speaking ; 
yet these may be easily distinguished from similar phrases used elsewhere, con- 
cerning which we have sufficient ground to conclude that they are to be taken in 
a proper sense. Though it is true, therefore, that there are personal characters 
given to things which are not persons ; yet we are not to conclude, that whenever 
the same modes of speaking are applied to those who are capable of performing 
personal actions, they must be taken in a metaphorical sense ; for that sense is a 
known exception to the common idea contained in words. 2. Most of those pas- 
sages of scripture, where personal characters are attributed, in a metaphorical sense, 
to things which are not persons, are in the poetical books, o{ in some particular 
places where there is a peculiar beautiful mode of speaking taken from poetry. 
"Will it therefore follow, that these personal characters are used in other parts of 
scripture, in which the Holy Ghost does not think fit to express himself in such an 
elegancy of style ? Now it is certain, that the personal characters before-mentioned 
are, throughout the whole scripture, given to the Son, and Holy Ghost, in places 
where there is no design of using a lofty figurative or uncommon way of speaking, 
as in the instances of the poetical passages. 3. "We must not suppose that the Holy 
Ghost uses any figurative ways of speaking, so as to cast a veil on plain truths, or 
to endanger our being led out of the way, as we should certainly be, if the many 
hundreds of places in scripture in which these personal characters are applied to 
the Son and Spirit, were to be taken in a metaphorical sense, without any intima- 
tion given in the context that they are so to be understood. And it will certainly 
be very diflicult to find out any place in scripture that may serve to direct us in 
our application of these characters, and to show, as applied to the persons in the 
Godhead, when they are to be taken in a metaphorical sense, and when not. 4. 
Though we find many metaphors in scripture, yet the most important truths are 
laid down in the plainest manner, so that the injudicious and unlearned reader, 
who understands nothing of the art of rhetoric or criticism, is able to understand 
tliem. They are, at least, not universally wrapt up in figurative ways of speaking. 
Now, it would be strange, if the account we have of the personality of the Son 
and Holy Ghost, which is a doctrine of the highest importance, and such as renders 
them distinct objects of woi'ship, should be expressed in such a way, as that we 
should be at the greatest uncertainty whether they are persons or not. 5. If per- 
.'ionai characters are not metaphorical, when applied to men or angels, who are 
subjects capable of having personality attributed to them, why should they be 

c Job xli. 3, 4, 27, 29, 34. d Chap, xxxviii. 23—32. e Ver, 33. f Rom. ix. 1. 


reckoned metaphorical, when applied to the Son and Spirit, who, though they are 
not distinct beings, yet have a divine understanding and will, and therefore are 
not rendered incapable of having personality ascribed to them, as signihed by these 
characters ? 6. To assert that personal characters, attributed to the Son and 
Spirit, are always to be understood in a metaphorical sense, would give equal 
ground to conclude that they are to be so understood when applied to the Father. 
Accordingly, if we militate against their personality, we shall, at the same time, 
overthrow his personality ; and if we deny that there are three Persons in the 
Godhead, we shall, in effect, suppose that there are no Persons in the Godhead, any 
otherwise than as the Godhead, which is common to the Father, Son, and Spirit, 
is often described as though it were a Person ; and if ever the word ' personality' 
is used or applied in a metaphorical sense, it must be when the Godhead is so de- 
scribed. 7. Though some personal characters are occasionally applied, in a meta- 
phorical sense, to things that are not Persons, yet it is not usual for these to be 
described as performing personal works. When, in particular, any statements de 
scribe personal works, not in the way of occasional hint, or in comiexion with 
metaphorical modes of speaking, but as a long series of action, and in a variety 
of performances, they must certainly be understood in a proper sense. Thus, when 
the Son and Spirit are set forth in scripture as performing those works which are 
expressive of their personal glory, — the one in what respects the purchase of re- 
demption, and the other in the application of it ; and when each of them is de- 
scribed as standing in those relations to men which are founded in the performance 
of these works, certainly what is said of them must be understood in a most proper 
sense. We must take heed, lest, while we attempt to prove that the Persons in 
the Godhead are to be taken in a figurative sense, we do not give occasion to any 
to think that the great benefits which we receive from them are to be understood 
in the same sense. 

The Personal Properties of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

We shall now take notice of some other personal properties, whereby the Son and 
Spirit are distinguished from one another, and from the Father. We shall notice 
these as they are expressed in one of the Answers under our present consideration. 
' It is proper to the Father to beget the Son,' or, as it is sometimes expressed, to 
be unbegotten, ' and to the Son, to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy 
Ghost, to proceed from the Father and the Son, from all eternity.' This is cer- 
tainly one of tl^e most difficult heads of divinity that can be insisted on ; and some 
have made it more so, by their attempting to explain it. I have sometimes thought 
that it would be tlie safest and most eligible way, to pass it over, as a doctrine less 
necessary to be understood. There are, however, several scripture-expressions, on 
which it is founded, which we ought to pay the greatest delerence to, much more 
than to those explications which are merely human. The properties also plainly 
prove the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be distinct Persons ; and we must there- 
fore humbly inquire into the meaning of those scriptures in which they are men- 
tioned. We must thus say something as to what is generally called the eternal gen- 
eration of the Son and the procession of the Holy Ghost. And I hope, through 
divine assistance, we shall advance no doctrine that is either subversive of our faith 
in tlie doctrine of tlie Trinity, which we are endeavouring to maintain ; or deroga- 
tory to the essential or personal glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit ; or alto- 
gether contrary to the sense in which many Christians, who are unacquainted with 
those modes ot speaking used by the fathers and schoolmen, understand those scrip- 
tures upon which this doctrine is founded. 

Here we shall give a brief account of what we apprehend to be the commonly re- 
ceived sentiments of divines, who, in their writings, have strenuously maintained, 
and judiciously defended, the doctrine of the Trinity, concerning the eternal gen- 
eration of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost. This I shall endeavour 
to do with the greatest deference to those who have treated of these subjects, as 
well as with the greatest impartiality ; and I shall take occasion to show how far 
the Arians conclude that we give up the cause to them, and yet how little reason 
they have to insult us upon this head. 


As to the eternal generation of the Son, it is generally explained in this manner. 
The Father is called by some, ' the fountain of the Godhead,' an expression taken 
from some of the fathers who defended the Nicene faith. But others, of late, have 
rather chosen to call the Father the fountain of the Trinity ; and he is said to be 
of himself, or unbegotten. This they state as his personal character, distinct from 
that of the Son. On the other hand, the Son, as to his personality, is generally 
described as being from the Father. Many choose to express themselves about 
this mystery in these terms, — ' the Father communicated the divine essence to the 
Son.' This is the most common mode of speaking ; though others think it safer 
to say, that he communicated the divine personality to him. I cannot tell, how- 
ever, which is least exceptionable. But when I find others using the phrase, ' the 
Father gave the divine essence to the Son,' their mode of speaking bemg founded, 
as they apprehend, on that scripture, ' As the Father hath life in himself, so hath 
he given to the Son to have life in himself,''^ I cannot but think it is an unguarded 
expression, and foreign to the design of the Holy Ghost in that scripture, as wiU 
be hereafter considered. The Arians are ready to insult us upon such modes of 
spoaking, and suppose us to conclude that the Son receives his divine perfections, 
and therefore cannot be God equal with the Father. None of those, however, who 
use such expressions, suppose that the Son's deity is founded on the arbitrary will of 
the Father ; for they all assert that the divine nature is communicated necessarily, 
and from all eternity, as the sun communicates its rays necessarily, which are of equal 
duration with it. Hence, while they make use of a word which, according to its 
most known acceptation, seems subversive of the truth, they happily, for truth's sake, 
explain away the proper sense of it ; so that all they can be blamed for by the adver- 
sary, is an impropriety of expression. Again, others speak a little more exception- 
ably, when, explaining the eternal generation of the Son, they say that the Father 
produced him. But this idea they also happily explain away ; saying that the pro- 
duction of which they speak, is not such as in the case of the cause producing the 
effect. Some of the fathers, indeed, who have been in the Trinitarian scheme, 
have unwarily called the "Father the cause of the Son. Yet our modern divines 
seldom or never use that expression ; or, if they speak of an eternal production, 
they suppose it to differ vastly from the production of creatures, or from produc- 
tion in that sense in which the Arians suppose the Son to be produced. The ex- 
pression, however, had certainly better be laid aside, lest it should be thought that 
we conclude the Son not equally necessary, and, from all eternity, co-existent with 
the Father ; which our divines, how unwarily soever in other respects they may 
express themselves, are very far from denying. 

We shall now consider how some divines express themselves, concerning the pro- 
cession of the Holy Ghost. On this subject, they generally speak as though the 
divine essence were communicated by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost. 
Hence, they suppose that the Holy Ghost, at least as he is a divine Person, or has 
the divine nature communicated to him, cannot, any more than the Son, be said to 
be of himself, but is from the Father and the Son, from whom he proceeds, or receives, 
as some express it, the divine nature, or as others say, the divine personality. Others 
speak of the Spiration of the Holy Ghost, which they suppose to be the same with his 
procession. The world, however, is much at a loss to understand what they mean 
by the word ' Spii-ation.' It seems to be a mere metaphorical expression, as when 
they call him the breath of the Father and the Son ; and if so, it will not express 
his proper personality. But since we are much in the dark about the reason of 
this mode of speaking, it would be better to lay it aside, as many modern writers 
have done. 

As to the manner of the procession of the Holy Ghost, there was, about the 
eighth and ninth centuries, a very warm dispute between the Greek and the Latin 
church, whether the Spirit proceeded from the Father only, or from the Father 
and the Son. The controversy rose to such a height, that they charged one an- 
other with heresy and schism ; though neither side well understood what they con- 
tended about. Had they agreed to the healing expedient, afterwards proposed, 

a John V. 26. 


that they should mutually acknowledge that the Holy Ghost was from the Father 
by the Son, the matter would have been left as much in the dark as it was before. 
Some speak of the procession of the Holy Ghost, as though he was produced by the 
Father and the Son, as the Son, as was before observed, is said, in his eternal genera- 
tion, to be produced by the Father. Yet they suppose that the production of neither 
of them was such that they may be called effects, — for that would be to give away 
the cause we contend for ; and they term it the production of a Person in, and not 
out of, the divine essence. But which way soever we understand the phrase, it con- 
tains such an impropriety of expression as can hardly be defended. It is much better 
indeed to explain away the proper and grammatical sense of words, than to corrupt 
the truth ; yet I would not follow them in this mode of speaking. Moreover, some 
have pretended to determine the difference between the eternal generation of the 
Son, and the Spirit's procession. They, with modesty, premise indeed that the 
matter is not to be explained ; but, as far as they enter into it, they suppose 
the difference to be this, — that in the eternal generation of the Son, the Father 
communicated the divine essence, or, at least, personality to him, which is his act 
alone, and herewith he communicated a property, or power, to him, to communi- 
cate the same divine essence to the Holy Ghost, while in the procession of the 
Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, there is no power conveyed to him to 
communicate the divine essence to any other as a fourth Person in the Godhead. 
These things may be observed in the writings of those who treat of this subject. 
It is to be feared, however, that they enter too far into the explication of this un- 
searchable mystery ; and some will be ready to conclude that they attempt to be 
wise above what is written. 

In giving my own sense of the communication of the divine essence, I shall 
probably be thought not to say enough concerning it ; yet I hope that, in other 
respects, none will conclude that I advance any thing subversive of the doctrine of 
the Trinity. I assert that the divine essence is not communicated by the Father 
to the Son and Holy Ghost, as imparting or conveying it to them. I take the 
word ' communicate ' in another sense, and say that all tlie perfections of the divine 
nature are communicated, that is, equally attributed to, or predicated of, the Father, 
Son and Spirit. This sense of the word is what some intend when they say the 
human nature is communicated to every individual, on which account they are de- 
nominated men. The word is sometimes used in this sense by logicians and 
schoolmen ; and it seems to be taken in the same sense in Heb. ii. 14. where the 
Greek words, »■« rtathin. x.%x.ot^(atvix,i ca^xos xai ai/jiariif, whicli wc render, ' the children were 
partakers of flesh and blood,' might be rendered, as in the vulgar Latin Version, 
Communicaverunt carni et sanguini, that is, they have the human nature communi- 
cated to, and predicated of, them, or they are truly and properly men. It is in this 
sense that we use the word, when we say that the different properties of the divine 
and human nature are communicated to, that is, predicated of the Person of Christ. 
This, divines generally call a communication of properties. In this sense I would 
be understood, when I say that the divine perfections are communicated to, or 
predicated of, the Father, Son, and Spirit ; and this all who maintain the doctrine 
of the Trinity will allow of. [See note 2 L, page 241.] The other sense of com- 
munication — namely, imparting, conveying, or giving the divine essence — I shall 
be very ready to agree to, vdien the apparent difficulties, which, to me, seem to lie 
in the way of it, some of which have been already considered, are removed. 

As to what concerns the farther explication of this mystery, we may observe, 
that the more nice some have been in their speculations about it, the more they have 
seemed bewildered. Thus some have inquired whether the eternal generation is 
one single act, or an act continued, — or whether, when it is said, ' This day have I 
begotten thee,' the meaning is, that the divine nature Avas communicated at once, 
or is perpetually communicating.s The difficulties that attend their asserting 
either the one or the other — which they who inquire into these matters, take notice 
oi' — I shall entirely pass over, apprehending that this doctrine receives no advan- 

g Some, who take delight in darkening this matter, by pretending to explain it, call the former 
a ra vvv stans ; the latter, fluens. 


tage by such disquisitions. Neither do I think it tends much to our edification to 
inquire, as some have done, whether, in the eternal generation, the Father is con- 
sidered as acting, and the Son as the subject on whom the action terminates ; or 
whether — as they farther inquire, but are not willing to assert — the Son, in this 
respect, is said to be passive. And I cannot but take notice of another nicety of 
inquiry, — namely, whether, in the eternal generation, the Son is considered as co- 
existent with the Father, or as having the divine essence, and hereby deriving only 
his sonship from him, from all eternity ; or whether he derives both his sonship 
and his essence. The former of these is the more generally received opinion. But 
I am not desirous to enter into this inquiry ; especially without first determining 
what we mean by ' sonship.' Yet whatever explication be given of the eternal 
generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, it is at least neces- 
sary to inquire, whether they are each of them self-existent, or, as some call it, 
avTo^iof. It is generally determined, that the Son and Holy Ghost have the same 
self-existent divine nature. With respect, however, to their manner of having i"t, 
some say that the Son has his divine nature from the Father, and the Holy Ghost 
from the Father and Son ; or that the Father only is self-existent. Most others 
say, that the Father is self-subsistent ; and that this is his personal property, as 
he is distinguished from the Son and Holy Ghost, whom they conclude not to be 
self-subsistent, but the one to subsist from the Father, and the other from the Father 
and the Son. This is a generally received opinion. I must confess myself, liowever, 
to be a little at a loss to account for it. Hence, the principal thing in which I am 
obliged, till I receive farther conviction, to differ from many others, is, whether 
the Son and Spirit have a communicated or derived personality. This many 
assert, but, I think, without sufficient proof ; for I cannot but conclude that the 
divine personality, not only of the Father, but of the Son and Spirit, is as much 
independent and underived, as the divine essence. 

We have tlius considered how some have embarrassed this doctrine, by being too 
nice in their inquiries about it. We shall now proceed to consider how others 
have done prejudice to it, by pretending to explain it ; and how, when they make 
use of similitudes for that purpose, they have rather prejudiced its enemies, than 
given any conviction to them. I shall mention only what I have found in the 
writings of some whom, in other respects, I cannot but exceedingly value, as hav- 
ing deserved well of the church of God, in defending this truth with good success. 
Yet when they take this method to explain this doctrine, they have, to say 
the best of it, done but little service to the cause which they have maintained. 
We find them, for example, expressing themselves to this effect: — The soul of man 
sometimes reflects on itself, and considers its own nature, powers, and faculties, or 
is conversant about itself as its object, and then it produces an idea which contains 
the moral image of itself, and is as when a man sees his face in a glass, and be- 
holds the image of himself ; so, in the eternal generation of the Son, God, behold- 
ing himself or his divine perfections, begets an image of himself, or has an eternal 
idea of his own perfections in his mind, which is called his internal word, as op- 
posed to the word spoken, which is external. By this illustration they set forth 
the generation of the Son ; and allege that for this reason, or as the wax expresses 
the character or mark of the seal that is impressed on it, he is called, ' The bright- 
ness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.'^ Again, they say, 
that there is a mutual love between the Father and the Son, which brings forth a 
third Person, or Subsistence, in the Godhead, namely, the Holy Ghost. There is 
in the divine essence, they say, an infinite understanding reflecting on itself, where- 
by it begets a Son, as was before observed, and an infinite will, which leads him to 
reflect on himself with love and delight, as the chief good, whereby he brings forth 
a third Person in the Godhead, namely, the Holy Ghost. Accordingly, they de- 
scribe this divine Person, as being the result of the mutual joy and delight that 
there is between the Father and the Son. These explications many are at a loss 
to understand. We humbly conceive it would be much better to let them alone, 
and to confess this doctrine to be an inexplicable mystery ; or else some other wslj 

z Heb. L 3. 



may be found out, less liable to exception, for explaining those scriptures which 
speak of the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holj Ghost. 

The Sonship of Christ. 

The scriptures generally brought to prove the eternal generation of the Son are 
various. A principal one is that in which the Father is represented as saying to 
him, ' Thou art my Son ; this day have I begotten thee ;'* that is, say they, ' I 
have, in my eternal, unsuccessive duration, communicated, or imparted, the divine 
essence, or, at least, personality to thee.' Another scripture brought for this pur- 
pose, is this : • The Lord possessed me,' speaking of his eternal Word, or Son, ' in 
the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, 
from tlie beginning, or ever the earth was. Before the mountains were settled, 
before the hills was I brought forth. ''^ In this passage, they suppose that God's 
possessing him, which is certainly to be taken in a difterent sense from his being 
the possessor of all creatures, is to be understood of his being God's proper Son by 
nature ; and his being said to be ' brought forth,' they suppose, proves his eternal 
generation. Another scripture brought for the same purpose, is that in which it 
is said of the Son, ' His goings forth have been of old, from everlasting. '«= From 
these words they attempt to prove his being begotten in the divine essence. But 
how that can be called his 'going forth,' I do not well understand. Moreover, they 
adduce the scripture before-mentioned : ' Who being the brightness of his glory, and 
the express image of his person ;'*! and the parallel scripture : ' Who is the image 
of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature;'® where, by 'first-born,' they 
understand, that he was begotten before all worlds, — the divine essence, or, at 
least, personality, being communicated to him from eternity. Another scripture, 
before referred to, is brought to prove this doctrine : ' As the Father hath life in 
himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;'^ that is, say some, 'As 
the Father hath all divine perfections in himself originally, so the Son hath these 
perfections by communication from him,' — which they suppose to be not an arbi- 
trary, but a necessary donation. Again, they adduce the texts where he is said to 
be ' the only-begotten of the Father,' and ' the only-begotten Son, who is in the 
bosom of the Father. 's From the former of these, they prove the eternal genera- 
tion of the Son ; and from the latter, his being begotten in the divine essence, 
wliich distinguishes it from all finite productions, which are out of himself. There 
are also many other scriptures that speak of our Saviour as the Son of God ; par- 
ticularly those in which he is called, ' the Son of the living God,''' ' his beloved 
Son,'' 'his own Son,' iS<«» »<•»,'' which some render, 'his proper Son,' that is, his 
Son, not only as having the same divine nature with himself, but as implying the 
manner of its communication. 

These are the scriptures which are generally brought to prove the eternal gener- 
ation of the Son. But we shall take occasion to inquire whether there may not be 
another sense given of them, which is less liable to exception, as well as more intel- 
ligible. It is to be owned that they contain some of the deep things of God ; and 
therefore it is no wonder if they are reckoned among those scriptures that are 
hard to be understood. But so far as I have any light, either from the context of 
the respective scriptures, or from the analogy of faith, I cannot but conclude that 
those I have mentioned, and all others of a similar nature, which are brought to 
prove the eternal generation or sonship of Christ, respect him as God-man, Media- 
tor. Here we shall consider these scriptures ; and then answer some objections 
that may be brought against our sense of them. And in what we shall say, it will, 
I hope, appear, that, Avithout being tenacious of those modes of speaking which 
have the sanction of venerable antiquity, and are supported by the reputation of 
those who have used them, we assert notliing but what tends to the glory of the 
Son and Spirit, establislies the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, and agrees with 
the commonly received faith, so far as it is founded on scripture. 

a Psal. ii. 7. b Prov. viii. 22, 23, 25. c Mic. v. 2. d Heb. i. 3. 

e Col. i. 15. t John v. 26. g John i. xiv. 18. h Matt, xvi, 16. 

i Matt. ill. 17- k Rom. viii. 2. 


The first scripture before-mentioned, which was brought to prove the eternal 
generation of the Son, was this, ' Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.'* 
That this cannot respect the communication of the divine nature or personality to 
the Son, appears, as I humbly conceive, from the words immediately foregoing, ' I 
will declare the decree,' or wliat I had before decreed or determined. Far be it 
from us to suppose that the divine nature or personality of the Son, was the result 
of an act of the divine will. Indeed, the whole Psalm plainly speaks of Christ as 
Mediator. As such he is said, to be ' set as God's King on his holy hill of Sion •,'^ 
and, as such, he is said to intercede, or ask of God ; and, as the result of this, the 
Father is said, to ' give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost 
parts of the earth for his possession. '*= All this is spoken of him, as a farther ex- 
plication of those words : ' Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' The 
apostle refers to this scripture when speaking of him as Mediator, he describes 
him as ' having, by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name than the angels ;'** 
which he has done, as he is constituted heir of all things. The apostle subjoins 
the promise, ' I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son ;' that is, 

• He shall perform that obedience which is due from him as a Son ; and I will give 
unto him those rewards which are due from a Father, who has committed this 
work to him, with a promise of conferring those revenues of mediatorial glory on 
him, which should ensue on his fulfilling it.' Moreover, this scripture is referred 
to by the apostle, when he says, that ' the promise, which was made to the 
fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto their children, in that he hath raised up 
Jesus again, as it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son ; this day 
have I begotten thee.'® It is plain from this, that the psalmist speaks of him as 
having finished his work of redemption ; at the time of his doing which, he was 
raised from the dead ; and then, in the fullest sense, he had ' the heathen for his 
inheritance.' On this account, he is also called, * The first-begotten of the dead,'' 
and, ' The first-born from the dead.'? 

The next scripture^ brought to prove the eternal generation of the Son, refers 
to Christ as Mediator. When God is said to ' possess him in the beginning of his 
way,' the meaning is, that in his eternal design of grace relating to the redemption 
of man, the Father possessed or laid claim to him as his Son, or Servant, appoint- 
ed in the human nature, to bring about that great work. Accordingly it follows, 

* I was set up from everlasting ;' that is, fore-ordained of God, to be the Mediator 
and Head of his elect. This agrees very well with what follows : ' I was daily his 
delight ;' that is, God the Father was well-pleased with him, when foreseeing, 
from all eternity, what he would do in time, to secure the glory of his perfections 
in the redemption of man; just as he publicly testified his well-pleasedness in 
him, when he was actually engaged in this work. It is farther added, that ' he 
was always rejoicing betore him ; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and 
his delights were with the sons of men.' This signifies the great pleasure Christ 
had in his eternal foresight of what he would do for the sons of men, whom he is 
elsewhere said to have ' loved with an everlasting love.' 

The next scripture is in Micah v. 2, where, speaking of the Son, it is said, 
' Whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.' For understanding this 
let us consider that God's goings are sometimes taken in scripture for what he 
does, whereby he renders himself the object of his people's astonishment and praise. 
These are his visible goings. Thus, ' They have seen thy goings, God, even 
the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary ;'^ that is, they shall see the 
great things, which thou wilt do for man, in the work of redemption. So in the 
passage in Micah, we read of Christ's goings forth, his invisible goings, as we may 
call them, or his secret purposes, or designs of grace, relating to the redemption of 
his people. ' His goings forth were from everlasting ;' that is, he did, from eterni- 
ty, design to save them ; the outgoings of his heart were towards them ; and, as 
the result of this, he came into the world, and was born in Bethlehem, according" 
to this prediction. 

The next scripture is in Heb. i. 3, where he is said to be ' the brightness of his,' 

aPs. ii. 7. bVer. 6. c Ver. 8. d Heb. i. 5. e Acts xiii. 32, 33. 

f Rev. i. 5. g Col. i. 18. h Prov. viii. 22, 23, 25. i Psal. Ixviii. 24. 

I. X 


that is, his Father's ' glorj, and the express image of his Person.' By the former 
expression, I humbly conceive, is meant, that the glory of the divine perfections 
shines forth most illustriously in Christ, our great Mediator ; as the apostle ex- 
presses it elsewhere, ' God hath shined in our hearts, to give the knowledge of his 
glory in the face of Jesus Christ.''* By the latter expression, in which Christ is 
called ' the express image of his Person,' I humbly conceive is meant, that, though 
his divine nature is the same as the Father's, yet his personality is distinct. Ac- 
cordingly, it is not said to be the same, but ' the image ' of his Father's. The 
passage proves also his proper divine personality, or shows it to be, in all respects, 
like that of the Father, though not the same. 

The next scripture is in John v. 26. ' As the Father hath life in himself ; so 
hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.' We cannot think that the 
Father's having ' given to the Son to have life in himself,' implies his giving him 
the" divine perfections ; for the propriety of that mode of speaking cannot be de- 
fended consistently with his proper underived deity. I humbly conceive, that the 
meaning of it is, that 'as the Father hath life in himself,' that is, as he has, at 
his own disposal, eternal life, or all that fulness of grace and glory which his peo- 
ple are to be made partakers of, and has designed to give it in his eternal purpose ; 
so hath he given to the Son, as Mediator, to have life in himself, that is, that, as 
such, he should be the treasury of all this grace, and that he should have life in 
himself to dispense to them. This is very agreeable to his character and office, 
as Mediator ; and to the words which follow : ' Verily, verily, I say unto you, he 
that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, 
and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life ;'*' and 
' He,' namely, the Father, ' hath given him authority to execute judgment also, 
because he is the Son of man.'" These words plainly denote, that the life which 
he has received from the Father, is that eternal life which he, as Mediator, is em- 
powered or commissioned to bestow on his people. This he has in himself. Ac- 
cordingly he is said to be ' full of grace and truth ;'^ and it is elsewhere said, ' It 
pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. '^ 

The next thing to be considered, is the sense of the many scriptures in which 
our Saviour is described as 'the Son of God,' 'the Son of the living God,' 'his 
only begotten Son,' ' his own or proper Son,' as distinguished from all others. These 
names, I humbly conceive, set forth his glory, as Mediator ; and this we shall en- 
deavour to prove. But, to prepare our way for the prosecution of the argument, as 
well as to prevent any misconstruction which might prejudice it, we shall premise 
a few remarks. 1. When we read of the Son of God as dependent on the Father, in- 
ferior and obedient to him, and yet as being equal with him, and having the same 
divine nature, we cannot conceive of any character which answers to all these ideas 
of sonship, except that of Mediator. If we consider the properties of sonship among 
men, every one who stands in this relation to a father, is dependent on him. In this 
respect, the father is the cause of his son. Sonship is not like any other production ; for 
no effect can, properly speaking, be called a son, but that which hath the same kind 
of nature with his father. The relation of sonship also, always implies inferiority, 
and an obligation to yield obedience. I do not apply this, in every respect, to the 
sonship of Christ ; which no similitude, taken from mere creatures, can sufficiently 
illustrate. His character, as Mediator, however, seems to answer to it, more than 
any thing else than can be said of him ; since he has, as such, the same individual 
nature with the Father, and also is inferior to, and dependent on him. As a son, 
among men, is inferior to, and dependent on, his father, and as the prophet savs, 
' honoureth his father ;'^ so whatever Christ is as Mediator, he receives it from 
the Father, and, in all that he does, as he himself says, he 'honoureth his Father. 'e 
.As the whole work of redemption is referred to the Father's glory, and the com- 
mission by which the Son acts as Mediator is received from the Father ; so, as a 
Son, he refers all the glory of it to him. 2. This account of Christ's sonship does 
not take away any argument by which we prove his deity. When we consider 

a 2 Cor. iv. 6. b Ver. 24. c Ver. 27, d John i. 14. e Col. i. 19. 

f MaL. i. 6. g John viii. 49. 


him as Mediator, or speak of the person of Christ as such, we always suppose h\n\ 
to be botli God and man ; so that, as God, he is equal with the Father, and has 
an equal right to divine adoration. This belongs to him as much when (considered 
as Mediator, as it can be supposed to do if we consider his sonship in any other 
respect. 3. Our account of Christ's sonship does not take away any argument to 
prove his distinct personality from the Father and Holy Ghost. If it sets aside 
that which is taken from the dependence of his personality on the Father, as re- 
ceived from him by communication, it substitutes another in the room of it. To 
be a Mediator, is, without doubt, a personal character ; and because neither the 
Father nor the Holy Ghost can be said to be Mediators, it implies that his per- 
sonality is distinct from theirs. Likewise his acting as Mediator from the Father, 
and the Holy Spirit's securing the glory which arises to him from hence, and ap- 
plying the redemption purchased by him, are a farther proof of the distinction of 
the Persons in the Godhead. 4. While we consider the Mediator as both God and 
man, in one Person, we do not suppose that his mediatorial character respects 
either of his two natures considered separately. It does not so respect his divine 
nature. It is true, his having the same nature with the Father, might be reckoned 
by some a character of sonship ; as it contains one ingredient in the common idea 
which we have of sonship among men. They, as sons, are said to have the same 
kind of nature as their fathers. So our Saviour's having the same individual na- 
ture with the Father, might give occasion to some to denominate him his Son. 
But though this may be the foundation of his being called God's 'proper Son,' 
I'iiss uUf, yet it is not his distinguishing character as a Son. For it would follow, 
that the Holy Ghost, who has the same nature with the Father, would, for the 
same reason, be called his Son. But this is contrary to the scripture account 
given of him, as proceeding from the Father and the Son. Again, the character 
of Christ as God-man, Mediator, does not respect his human nature, considered 
separately from his divine, nor any of those peculiar honours conferred upon it be- 
yond what any mere creatures are made partakers of. 

This leads us to consider the difference between our view of his sonship, and 
that which was generally entertained by the Socinians. These, for the most part, 
speak of Christ as being denominated the Son of God, on account of the extraor- 
dinary and miraculous conception, or formation, of his human nature in the womb 
of the Virgin. For this they refer to that scripture : ' The Holy Ghost shall come 
upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee ; therefore also that 
Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.''^ The 
sense in which they understand this text, is, that Christ is called the Son of God 
on account of this extraordinary event. We cannot think, however, that a miracu- 
lous production is a sufficient foundation to support this character, and must con- 
clude that the glory of Christ's sonship is infinitely greater than what arises thence. 
I humbly conceive, that that scripture is to be understood, with a small variation 
of the translation, thus, ' The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, &c. because that 
Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called, ' as he really is, ' the Son 
of God ;' that is, ' He is, as Mediator, an extraordinary Person appointed to execute 
a glorious office, the Godhead and the manhood being to be united, on which ac- 
count he is called the Son of God ; and it is therefore expedient that the forma- 
tion of his human nature should be in an extraordinary way, namely, by the power 
of the Holy Ghost.' Again, the Socinians suppose that his being called the Son 
of God, refers only to some dignities conferred upon one whom they suppose to be 
no more than a man. This is infinitely below the glory which we ascribe to him 
as Mediator. Their idea of him, as the Son of God, how extraordinary soever his 
conception was, argues him to be no more than a creature ; but ours, as has been 
before observed, proves him a divine Person, since we never speak of him as Medi- 
ator, without including both natures. 

Having premised these things, to explain our sense of Christ's being called the 
Son of God, as Mediator, we proceed to prove our view from scripture. Here we 
are not under a necessity of straining the sense of a few scriptures, to make them 

a Luke i. 35. 


speak agreeably to our notion of Christ's sonship. I think the whole scripture, 
whenever it speaks of Christ as the Son of God, gives countenance to it. I cannot 
find one place in the New Testament, in which Christ is called the Son of God, 
without sufficient evidence appearing in the context, that he is so called as Media- 
tor. Thus Peter's confession, ' Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,''= 
speaks of him as Christ, or the Mediator, that is, as the person who was invested 
in the office, and came to perform tlie work, of a Mediator ; and as such it calls 
him, 'the Son of the living God.' So when the High Priest asked our Saviour, 
' Art thou the Christ, the Son of God ?'^ his question means. Art thou the 
Messiah, as thou art supposed to be bj thy followers ? Our Saviour replied to 
him, ' Thou hast said ;'^ that is. It is as thou hast said ; and then he describes 
himself in another character, by which he is often represented, namely, as Media- 
tor, and speaks of the highest degree of his mediatorial glory to which he shall be 
advanced at his second coming : ' Nevertheless, I say unto you. Hereafter shall 
ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the 
clouds of heaven.'^ Doubtless, the centurion, also, and they who were with him, when 
they confessed that ' he was the Son of God,'s understood by the phrase, that he 
was the Messiah, or the Christ ; which is a character by which he was most known, 
and which had been supported by so many miracles, and was now confirmed by 
the miracle of the earthquake which gave them conviction. Again, when the devils 
are represented as crying out, ' Thou art Christ, the Son of God ,'^ it is added, that 
' they knew that he was Christ ; ' so that the commonly received notion of our 
Saviour's sonship, was, that he was the Christ, Further, when Jesus says, con- 
cerning Lazarus, that 'his sickness was not unto death,' that is, not such as that 
he should continue in the state of the dead, ' but for the glory of God, that the Son 
of God might be glorified thereby ;'* the meaning is, that he might give a proof of 
his being the Christ, by raising him from the dead. Hence, when he speaks to 
Martha, with a design to try whether she believed he could raise her brother from 
the dead, and represents himself to her as the object of faith, she replies, ' I be- 
lieve that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.'"' 
Again, it is said, that Saul, when converted, ' preached Christ in the synagogues, 
that he is the Son of God ;'^ that is, he proved him to be the Messiah. Accordingly, 
when he was establishing the same doctrine, it is said, that ' he proved that he was 
the very Christ.'"" y 

Moreover, our Saviour is described in scripture as executing some of his media- 
torial offices, or as having received a commission to execute them from the Father, 
or as having some branches of mediatorial glory conferred upon him, at the same 
time that he is called the Son of God ; and this aftbrds us ground to conclude that 
the view we have given is the true import of his sonship. Thus it is said, ' We 
have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.'" 
John the Baptist also gives a public testimony to him, as sustaining a character 
which belongs to him as Mediator, when he says, ' Behold the Lamb of God, which 
taketh away the sins of the world ;'° and afterwards, referring to the same charac- 
ter, he says, ' I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God.'P At another 
time, he gives a noble testimony to him, as God-man, Mediator, when he calls him, 
' The Bridegroom which hath the bride,' that is, who is related to, and has a pro- 
priety in, his church; and adds, that 'he testifies what he has seen and heard,' and 
that it is ' he whom God hath sent, who speaks the words of God, for God giveth 
not the Spirit by measure unto him ;'i and then, as a farther explication, he says, 
' The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.''' This is, 
in effect, the same as when Christ is called elsewhere, ' his beloved Son.' Again, 
Christ is said to be 'a Son over his own house, whose house are we ;'* which denotes, 
not only his propriety in his church, but his being the Head of it as Mediator. 
The apostle farther speaks of him as ' the Son of God, whom we are to wait for 
from heaven ; whom he has raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us 
from the wrath to come ;'* as the Son of God, 'who loved him, and gave himself for 

c Matt. xvi. 16. ' d Matt. xxvi. 63. e Ver. 64. f Ver. 64. g Matt, xxvii. 54. 

I Luke iv. 41. i John xi. 4. k Ver. 27. 1 Acts ix. 20. m Ver. 22. n Heb. iv. 14. 
John i. 29. p Ver. 34. q John iii. 29, &c. r Ver. 35. s Heb. iii. 6. t 1 Thess. i. 10. 


him ;'" as ' God's dear Son,' and, at the same time, as having ' a kingdom,' into 
which his people are * translated ;'^ and as the Person ' in whom we have redemp- 
tion through his hlood, who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every 
creature. 'y This last passage seems to be taken in the same sense as that in which 
he is said to have been 'appointed heir of all things,'^ and so refers to him as God- 
man, Mediator. 

Farther, when he is considered as a Son, related to his Father, he appears from 
the context to be viewed as Mediator. Thus, he says, ' I ascend unto my Father, 
and your Father ; to my God, and your God ;'^ that is, ' My Father, by whom I 
am constituted Mediator ; and your Father, namely, the God who loves you for my 
sake : he is first my God, as he has honoured, loved, and glorified me ; and then your 
God, as he is reconciled to you for my sake. ' So the apostle says, ' Blessed be God, even 
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ; the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.'^ 
It may be objected that, in these scriptures, and others of a similar nature, 
there are two ideas, — namely, one of our Saviour as the Son of God by eternal 
generation, the other of him as Mediator. We answer, that if Christ's sonship, in 
the sense in which it is generally explained, were sufficiently proved from other 
scriptures which take no notice of his mediatorial character or works, or could be 
accounted for without being liable to the difficulties before-mentioned, and if his 
character, as Mediator, did not contain in it an idea of personality, the objection 
would have more weight than otherwise it seems to have. 

It is farther objected that, as ' God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, 
made under the law,'"^ he was the Son of God before he was sent into the world, 
or made of a woman, and under the law, — that is, he was the Son by eternal 
generation. The answer I would give to this objection is, that it is not necessary 
to suppose that Christ had the character of a Son before he was sent, though he 
had that of a divine person. The words may, without any strain or force upon the 
sense, be understood thus : * When the fulness of time was come, in which the 
Messiah was expected, God sent him forth, or sent him into the world, with the 
character of a Son, at which time he was made of a woman, made under the law, 
in order that he might redeem them that were under the law.' But even if we 
suppose that Christ had the character of a Son before he was sent into the world, 
it will not overthrow our argument. He was, by the Father's designation, an 
eternal Mediator, and, in this respect, God's eternal Son. He, therefore, who 
before was so by virtue of the eternal decree, is now actually sent, that he might 
be and do, what he was, from all eternity, designed to be and do. He was set 
up from everlasting, or appointed to be the Sou of God ; and now he is sent to 
perform the work which this character implies. 

It is objected again, that his sonship is apparent from his being Mediator ; inas- 
much as it is said, ' Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things 
which he suffered.'"^ It cannot, it is alleged, be said, in propriety of speech, though 
he were Mediator, yet he learned obedience ; since he was under an obligation to 
obey and suffer as Mediator. The meaning, therefore, must be, though he were a 
Son by eternal generation, yet he condescended to put himself into such a capacity, 
as that he was obliged to obey, and suffer, as Mediator. The stress of this objec- 
tion lies on the word which we render ' though.' But the passage, Kai trtj uv vU(, &c., 
may be rendered, with a small variation, ' Though, being a Son, he learned obedi- 
ence by the things he suffered ; but being made perfect,' that is, after his sufferings, 
' he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' This 
translation takes away the force of the objection. I see no absurdity, however, if 
it be rendered, as in the vulgar Latin version, ' And, indeed, being a Son, he 
learned obedience.'® The passage, then, proves the argument we are endeavouring 

u Gal. ii. 20. x Col. i. 13. y Col. i. 14. z Heb. i. 2. 

a John XX. l?. b 2 Cor. i. 3. c Gal. iv. 4. d Heb. v. 8. 

e Kb/ «•«{ is used six times in the New Testament. In two or three places it might be rendered, 
without deviating from the sense of the respective texts, et quidem, as well as quamvis. I see no 
reason why the eni-litic particle irtj, being added to *«*, should always, without exception, alter the 
sense of it, any more than when it is joined to u(, tay, or i<. And whereas 1 render *«;, in ver. 9, 
•but,' instead of 'and,' that may be justified by several scriptures, where it is so rendered; as Luke 
vii. 35; Matt. lii. 39; Acts x. 28; 1 Cor. xvi. 12. 


to defend, as if it said, It is agreeable to the character of a Son to learn obedience ; 
it was with this view that the character was conferred upon him ; and, in performing 
obedience and suffering as Mediator, and thereby securing the glory of the divine 
perfections in bringing about the work of our redemption, he acted in pursuance 
of that character. 

It will be farther objected, that what we have said concerning the sonship of 
Christ, as referring to his being Mediator, has some consequences which seem dero- 
gatory to his person. It will be alleged, in particular, as a consequence from it, 
that had not man fallen, and stood in need of a Mediator, our Saviour would not 
have had that character, and therefore would never have been described as the Son 
of God, or worshipped as such ; that our first parents, while in the state of inno- 
cence, knowing nothing of a Mediator, must have known nothing of the sonship of 
Christ, and therefore could not give him the glory which is the result of it ; and 
that as God might have prevented the fall of man, or, when fallen, might have 
refused to recover him by a Mediator, our Saviour might not have been the Son 
of God, that is, in the sense of a Mediator between God and man. This objection 
may be very easily answered, and the charge of Christ's mediatorial sonship being 
derogatory to his glory, removed. We allow that, had not man fallen, our Saviour 
would not have been a Mediator between God and man. The commonly received 
notion is true, that his being a Mediator, is, according to the tenor of several scrip- 
tures, by divine ordination and appointment. But I see no absurdity in asserting, 
that his character, as the Son of God, or Mediator, is equally the result of the 
divine will or decree. This, I hope, if duly considered, will not contain any dero- 
gation from his glory, for we farther assert that, though our Saviour would not have 
sustained this character if man had not fallen, or if God had not designed to bring 
about the work of redemption by him, yet he would have been no less a distinct 
Person in the Godhead, but, as such, would have had a right to divine glory. This 
appears from what was formerly said, as to his personality being equally necessary 
with his deity ; which, if it be not communicated to him, certainly has not the 
least appearance of its being the result of the divine will. Indeed, his divine per- 
sonality is the only foundation of his right to be adored ; and not his being in- 
vested in an office, which only draws forth or occasions our adoration. When we 
speak of Christ being adored as Mediator, it is his divine personality, included in 
that character, which renders him the object of adoration, and not his taking the 
human nature, or being or doing what he was or did, by divine appointment. I 
question whether they who assert that he had the divine nature or personality 
communicated to him, will place his right to divine adoration, on its being communi- 
cated ; they will place it rather on his having the divine nature or personality 
abstractedly from his manner of having it. So when we speak of Christ as Media- 
tor, it is his having the divine glory, or personality, included in that character 
which renders him the object of adoration. Hence, if man had not fallen, and 
Christ had not been Mediator, he would have had a right to divine glory as a Per- 
son in the Godhead. I doubt not but that our first parents, before they fell, had 
an intimation of his being a divine person, and adored him as such. If, therefore, 
Christ had not been Mediator, it would foUow only, that he would not have had 
the character of a Son. He would still have had the glory of a divine Person ; 
for though his sonship be the result of the divine will, his personality is not so. [See 
note 2 M, page 241.] 

The Procession of ike Holy Spirit, 

Having inquired into the sense of those scriptures which treat of the sonship of 
Christ, we shall next consider those that are generally brought to prove the pro- 
cession of the Holy Ghost. The principal of these, are John xiv. 26, xv. 26, and 
xvi. 7, in which he is said to ' proceed Irom the Father,' or to be ' sent by the Fa- 
ther in Christ's name,' or to be ' sent by the Son.' When he is said to be ' sent 
by the Son from the Father,' and ' to proceed from the Father,'^ they suppose that 
his ' proceeding from the Father,' signifies the communication of his divine essence, 

f John XV. 26. 


or, at least, his personality, and that his being ' sent hj tho Son,' implies that 
this communication is from him, as well as from the Father. So it is said, God 
hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son ;'s and our Saviour says, ' I will send him unto 
you ;* and, ' he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.'** These scrip- 
tures, if not brouglit directly to prove this doctrine, are, notwithstanding, supposed 
sufficient to evince the truth of it ; inasmuch as the Son could not send him, if he 
had not proceeded from him ; nor could the Spirit have received that which he 
shows to the Son's people, if he had not, from all eternity, received his divine 
essence or personality from him. There is another scripture, brought by some very 
valuable divines, to prove the Spiration of the Holy Ghost ; a term which is used 
either as supposed to be expressive of the manner of his having his personality as a 
Spirit, or else as taken from the words of scripture brought to prove it. This scrip- 
ture is that, in which our Saviour is said to have ' breathed on ' his disciples, say- 
ing, ' Receive ye the Holy Ghost. '^ Here the external sign, or symbol, used in 
the act of conferring him on them in time, is thought to prove his procession from him 
from eternity ; as a temporal procession supposes an eternal one. We shall now 
inquire whether there may not be another sense given of these scriptures, agreeable 
to the analogy of faith, that may be acquiesced in by those who cannot so well un- 
derstand, or account for, the common interpretation. The sense, I humbly con- 
ceive, is this : the Spirit is considered, not with respect to the manner of his sub- 
sisting, but with respect to the subserviency of his acting, to set forth the Media- 
tor's glory, and that of the Father who sent him. I choose to call it a subserviency 
of acting, such as does not imply any inferiority in the agent. But if we suppose 
that it argues any inferiority in the Holy Spirit, this is only an inferiority in act- 
ing ; the works which he does being subservient to the glory of the Mediator, and 
of the Father, though his divine personality is, in all respects, equal with theirs. 
This explication of these texts is allowed by many, if not by most, of those who de- 
fend the doctrine of the Trinity, notwithstanding their maintaining the Spirit's 
procession from the Father and the Son, from all eternity, in the sense before con- 
sidered. I need only refer to that explication which a great and learned divine 
gives of these and similar texts, notwithstanding his adhering, in other respects, to 
the common mode of speaking, as to the eternal generation of the Son, and proces- 
sion of the Holy Ghost. His words are these: "All that discourse which we 
have of the mission and sending of the Holy Ghost, and his proceeding and com- 
ing forth from the Father and Son, for the ends specified, John xiv. 26. and xv. 26. 
and xvi. 7, 13. concerns not at all the eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost from 
the Father and Son, as to his distinct Personality and subsistence, but belongs to 
that economy, or dispensation of ministry, that the whole Trinity proceedeth in, for 
the accomplishment of the work of our salvation."*^ Now if these scriptures, which 
are the chief in all the New Testament on which this doctrine is founded, are to 
be taken in this sense, how shall we find a sufficient proof, from other scriptures, of 
the procession of the Holy Ghost in any other sense ? 

The Economy of the Persons in the Godhead, 

That we may farther explain this doctrine, let us consider, that whatever the 
Son, as Mediator, has purchased, as being sent by the Father for that end, is ap- 
plied by the Holy Ghost, who therefore acts in subserviency to them. This is 
generally called, by divines, 'the Economy of the Persons in the Godhead.' As 
this phrase is often used when we consider the distinct works of the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, in their respective subserviency to one another, we shall take occasion 
briefly to explain it, and shall show how it may be applied to them, without inferring 
any inferiority as to what concerns their personal glory. We shall say nothing con- 
cerning the. derivation or use of the word ' economy ;' though we cannot forbear 
to mention, with indignation, the sense which some of the opposers of the blessed 
Trinity have given it. Laying aside all the observances of decency and reverence, 
which this sacred mystery calls for, they represent us, as speaking of the family 

g Gal. iv. 6. h John xvi. 7, 14. i John xx. 22. k See Dr. Owen against Biddle, p. 362. 


government of the divine Persons. This is the most invidious sense they could 
put upon the word, and most remote from our design in the use of it. A few con- 
siderations will explain it and apply it to our present purpose. 

All those works, which are the effects of the divine power, or sovereign will, are 
performed by all the Persons in tlie Godhead, and attributed to them in scripture. 
The reason of this is very evident, — the power and will of God, and all other divine 
perfections, belong equally, and alike, to the Father, Son, and Spirit. If, then, 
that which produces the effects, belongs to them, the effects produced must be 
equally ascribed to them. Hence the Father is no more said to create and govern 
the world, or to be the Author of all grace, and the Fountain of blessedness, than 
the Son and Spirit. Yet since the Father, Son, and Spirit, are distinct Persons, 
and so have distinct personal considerations in acting, it is necessary that their per- 
sonal glory should be demonstrated, or made known to us, that our faith and wor- 
ship may be fixed on, and directed to them, in a distinct manner. But this dis- 
tinction of the Persons in the Godhead cannot be known, as their eternal power or 
deity is said to be, by the works of creation and providence, it being a doctrine of 
pure revelation. We are therefore given to understand, in scripture, when it treats 
of the great work of our salvation, that that work is attributed, first to the Father,— 
then to the Son, as Mediator, receiving a commission from him to redeem and save 
his people, — and then to the Holy Ghost, acting in subserviency to the Mediator's 
commission. This is what we are to understand when we speak of the distinct 
economy of the Father, Son, and Spirit. I cannot better express it than by con- 
sidering it as a divine determination, that the personal glory of the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, should be demonstrated in such a way. 

I shall now give instances of the economy of divine persons, in some particular 
acts or works. When a divine Person is represented in scripture as doing, or de- 
termining to do, any thing relating to the work of our redemption or salvation, by 
another divine Person, who must, for that reason, be considered in the matter as 
Mediator, it is to be understood in the economic sense, of the Father. By this 
means it is that he declares, or demonstrates, his personal glory. Thus it is said, 
'He,' that is the Father, * hath chosen us in him,' namely, in the Son ; it is also 
said, ' He hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.'^ 
Though election and predestination are applied also to the Son and Spirit, when 
they have a reference to the demonstration of their personal glory, yet, in 
this place, they are applied only to the Father. There are several otlier scriptures, 
in which things done are, for the same reason, particularly ascribed to the Father. 
Thus, it is said, ' God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ;' and ' He was 
in Christ, reconciling the world to himself;''" and, ' Of him,' namely, the Father, 
' are ye in Christ Jesus, who, of God,' that is, the Father, 'is made unto us wis- 
dom,' &c. "^ In these and several other scriptures to the same purpose, the Father 
is, in a peculiar manner, intended ; because he is considered, as no other divine 
Person is, as acting by the Mediator, or as glorifying the perfections of the divine 
nature which belong to him, by what this great Mediator did by his appointment. 

Further, when a divine Person is considered as acting in subserviency to the 
Father's glory, or executing a commission which he had received from him, relat- 
ing to the work of redemption, and accordingly performing any act of obedience in 
a human nature assumed by him for that purpose, this is peculiarly applied to 
the Son's personal character, and designed to demonstrate it, as belonging to no 
other Person in the Godhead. Of this, we have several instances in scripture. 
Thus, though to judge the world is a branch of the divme glory which is common 
to all the Persons in the Godhead, yet there are some circumstances in the charac- 
ter of a divine Person in particular, who is denominated as Judge of quick and dead, 
that are applicable to none but the Son. So we are to understand that scripture, 
' The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ;'** 
that is, the Son is the only Person in the Godhead who displays his mediatorial 
character and glory, as the Judge of the whole world. Yet when there is another 
personal character ascribed to God, as when he is called 'the Judge of all,' or 

1 Eph. i. 4, 5. m 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. n 1 Cor. i. 30. o John v. 22- 


when he is said to 'judge the world in righteousness, bj that Man,' namely, our 
Lord Jesus, 'whom he hath ordained,'? this personal character determines that it 
belongs to him in particular. Again, to give eternal life is a divine prerogative, 
and consequently belongs to all the Persons in the Godhead. Yet when a divine 
Person is said to give eternal life to a people that were given to him for that pur- 
pose, and to have received power, or authority, from another, to confer this privi- 
lege as Mediator, it is peculiarly applied to the Son. Thus, ' Thou hast given him 
power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given 

Moreover, when a divine Person is said to do anything in subserviency to the 
Mediator, it is to be understood peculiarly of the Spirit. Thus it is said, ' He 
shall glorify me ; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.'"" So 
when he is said to give his testimony to the mission or work of the Mediator, by 
any divine works performed by him, or when he is said to sanctify and comfort 
believers or to seal and confirm them unto the day of redemption, the things done 
are to be ascribed peculiarly to the Spirit. Though, as divine works, they are ap- 
plicable to all the Persons in the Godhead ; yet when he is said to perform them 
in a way of subserviency to Christ, as having purchased them, his distinct personal 
character as displayed in them is demonstrated, and the works are more especially 
applied to him. This is what we understand by that peculiar economy, or dispen- 
sation, which determines us to give distinct personal glory to each of the Persons 
in the Godhead. 

And now that we are speaking of the Spirit, considered as acting so as to set 
forth his personal glory, we may observe that, in accordance with this way of 
speaking, the gifts and graces of the Spirit, are, by a metonymy, called 'the Spirit.' 
Thus, it is said, ' Have ye received the Holy Ghost ? They said unto him. We 
have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.'* We are not to 
understand this passage as though they had not heard whether there were such a 
Person as the Holy Ghost. What they had not heard was that there was such an 
extraordinary dispensation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost conferred on men. Again, 
it is said, 'the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.'* 
The word 'given' being here supplied in our translation, and not found in the 
original, the passage ought rather to be rendered, ' the Holy Ghost was not as yet ;' 
by which we are to understand the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not his personality, 
which was from all eternity. Here we may farther observe, that when the Holy 
Ghost is spoken of as a Person, the word which denotes his personality, ouglit to 
•be rendered, not 'It,' but 'He,' as expressive of his personal character; and when 
it is taken in a figurative sense, for the gifts or graces of the Spirit, then it should 
be translated ' It.' This rule is sometimes observed. In John xvi. 13, it is said 
of the Spirit, ' He will guide you into all truth ;' where the personal character of 
the Spirit is expressly mentioned, as it ought to be. The rule, however, is not 
duly observed in every scripture. Thus, the words, ' The Spirit itself beareth 
witness,'" ought to have been rendered, ' The Spirit himself;' [See Note 2 N, page 
250.] as also the passage, 'the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us.''' The 
same rule ought to be observed in all other scriptures ; so that we may be led to 
put a just dift'erence between the Spirit, considered as a divine Person, or as pro- 
ducing those efi"ects which are said to be wrought by him. 

AVliat I have said, in attempting to explain those scriptures that treat of the 
Person of Christ, as God-man, Mediator, and of his inferiority, in that respect, or 
as he is said to sustain that character, to the Father, and those which speak of 
the subserviency of the Spirit, in acting to the Father and the Son, — does not, as 
I apprehend, run counter to the common faith of those who have defended the 
doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity. I hope, therefore, that when I call one the 
sonship of Christ, and the other the procession of the Holy Ghost, what I teach 
will not be deemed a new and strange doctrine. I cannot but persuade my- 
self, that what I have said concerning the Mediator as acting in obedience to the 

p Acts xvii. 31. q John xvii. 2. r John xvi. 14. s Acts xix. 2. 

t John vii. 39. u Rom. viii. 16. x Verse 26. 


Father, and concerning the Spirit as acting in subserviency to the Mediator, will 
not be contested by those who defend the doctrine of the Trinity. If I have a 
little varied from the common way of speaking, I hope none will be offended at the 
acceptation of a word ; especially as I have endeavoured to defend ray sense of it, 
by referring to many scriptures. If I cannot acquiesce in the common explication 
of the eternal generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, I am 
well satisfied I do no more than what many Christians do, who have received the 
doctrine of the Trinity from the scripture, and are unacquainted with those modes 
of speaking which are used in the schools. These appear as much to dislike them, 
as any other can do, when used in public discourses about this doctrine. 

Proofs of the Doctrine of the Trinity. 

We shall now proceed to consider, under four general heads of argument, the 
Godhead of the Father, Son, and Spirit, as maintained in one of the answers we 
are explaining. We shall consider it, from those divine names which are given to 
them, that are peculiar to God alone ; from their having the divine attributes as- 
cribed to them, and consequently the divine nature ; from their having manifested 
their divine glory, by those works that none but God can perform ; and from their 
having a right to divine worship, which none but God is worthy to receive. If 
these things be made to appear, we have all that we need contend for ; and it will 
be evident that the Son and Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father. These 
heads of argument we shall consider first in reference to the Son. 

Proofs of the Deity of Christ from his Titles. 

I. That the Son is God equal with the Father appears from those divine names 
given to him that are peculiar to God alone. 

Here we shall premise something concerning the use of names given to persons, 
together with the design of them. Names are given to persons, as well as things, 
with a twofold design. Sometimes nothing is intended by them but to distinguish 
one object from another. In this sense the names are not in themselves significant, 
or expressive of any property, or quality, in what they describe. Thus most, 
though not all, of those names we read of in scripture, are designed only to dis- 
tinguish one man from another ; and this is the most common use and design of 
names. On the other hand, they are sometimes given to signify some property in 
those to whom they are applied, such as what they should be or do. We have 
many instances in scripture, of persons called by names, which have had some* 
special signification annexed to them, assigned as a reason of their being given. 
Thus Adam had his name given him, because made of earth ; and Eve, because 
she was the mother of all living. The same may be said concerning Seth, Noah, 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and several others ; whose re- 
spective names have a signification annexed to them, agreeable to the proper sense 
of the words, and the design of their being given. As regards our present purpose, 
we may conclude, that when names are given to any divine Person, they are de- 
.signed to express some excellency and perfection belonging to him. We shall, 
therefore, have sufl&cient reason to conclude the Son to be a divine Person, if we 
can make it appear that he has those names given to him in scripture, which are 
proper to God alone. 

The name ' Jehovah,' which is peculiar to God, is given to him. 

Here we shall first prove that the name ' Jehovah ' is peculiar to God, and that 
he is distinguished by it from all creatures. It is said, ' I am the Lord,' or Jeho- 
vah, ' that is my name, and my glory wiU I not give to another ;'y or, as the text 
may be rendered, ' I am Jehovah, that name ot mine, and my glory,' which is sig- 
nified thereby, ' will I not give to another.' It follows, that this is an incommu- 
nicable name of God. When he says, ' I will not give it to another,' he declares 
that it necessarily belongs to him. He cannot, therefore, give it to another ; for 

y Isa. xlii. 8. 


that would be unbecoming himself. Hence, this name, which is expressive of his 
glorj in so peculiar a manner, is never given to any creature. There are other 
scriptures in which the name ' Jehovah ' is represented as peculiar to God. Thus 
when the prophet Amos had been speaking of the glory of God, as displayed in the 
works of creation and providence, he adds, that * the Lord,' or Jehovah, ' is his 
name.'^ So that those works, which are peculiar to God, might as well be applied 
to creatures, as the name 'Jehovah,' which is equally peculiar. The same prophet 
gives another magnificent description of God, with respect to those works that are 
peculiar to him, when he says, ' It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, 
and hath founded his troop in the earth ; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, 
and poureth them out upon the face of the earth ;' and then he adds, ' the Lord,' 
or Jehovah, ' is his name.''^ Again, it is said, ' that men may know, that thou, 
whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. '^ This is 
never said of any other divine names ;• which are, in a limited sense, sometimes 
given to creatures. Indeed, all creatures are expressly excluded from having a 
right to this name. 

There are scriptures in which the name ' Jehovah ' is applied to God, and an 
explication of it subjoined which argues that it is peculiar to him. When Moses 
desired of God, that he would let him know what ' his name ' was, for the encour- 
agement of the faith of the Israelites to whom he sent him,'' the meaning is, he 
desires to know what are those divine glories which would render him the object 
of faith and worship, or how he might so describe him to the children of Israel, as 
to elicit from them the reverence and regard which were due to the great God, who 
sent him about so important an errand. In answer to this, God says, ' I AM 
THAT I AM.' ' Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath 
sent me unto you.'*^ This description sets forth, not one single perfection, but all 
the perfections of the divine nature ; as though he had said, ' I am a God of in- 
finite perfection.' And then he adds, ' Thou shalt say unto the children of 
Israel, The Lord,' or Jehovah, 'the God of your fathers, hath sent me unto you;' 
where 'Jehovah' signifies the same as 'I AM THAT I AM.' He further 
adds, ' This is my memorial unto all generations.' This glorious name, therefore, 
is certainly peculiar to God. 

What has been already observed is sufficient to prove that the name ' Jehovah ' 
is proper to God only. We might add another argument of less weight ; which, 
though we do not lay a stress upon it as if it were of itself sufficient proof, may not 
improperly be mentioned in connection with what has been already suggested. It is, 
that the word ' Jehovah ' has no plural number, as being never designed to signify 
any more than the one God ; neither has it any emphatical particle affixed to it, 
as other words in the Hebrew language have. Several of the other names of God 
are sometimes applied to others, and are made to designate him, as distinguished 
from them, by means of an emphatic particle. Now, the reason why the name 
' Jehovah ' has not such a particle is, that it is never given to any creature. 

As the Jews best understood their own language, they may, in some respects, 
be depended on, as to the sense they give of the word ' Jehovah.' It is certain 
they paid the greatest regard to this name, even to superstition. Accordingly, 
they would never pronounce it ; but, instead of it, used some expressions by which 
they described it. Sometimes they call it, ' that name,' or ' that glorious name,' 
or 'that name that is not to be expressed.'® By this they mean, as Josephus says,* 
that it was not lawlul for them to utter it, or, indeed, to write it. If any one pre- 
sumed to do this, they reckoned him guilty not only of profaneness, in an uncommon 
degree, but even of blasphemy. The name is, therefore, never found in any writings 
of human composition among them. The modern Jews, indeed, are not much to 
be regarded, as retaining the same veneration for this name. Yet Oukelos, the 
author of the Chaldee paraphrase on some parts of scripture, who lived about fifty 
years after our Saviour's time, and Jonathan Ben-Uzziel, who is supposed to have 
lived as many years before it, never insert it in their writings ; and, doubtless, they 

z Amos V. 8. a Chap. ix. 6. b Psal. Ixxxiii. 18. c Exod. iii. 13 

d Ver. 14. e Orofia aviKfuyvrot, t Aiitiq. lib. iii. chap. 5. 


were not the first that entertained these sentiments about it, but had other writings 
then extant, which gave sanction to their practice. Some critics conclude, from 
Jewish writers, that the name was never pronounced, even in the earliest ages of 
the church, except by the high-priest ; and that when he was obliged, by the 
divine law, to pronounce it, in the form of benediction, the people always expressed 
an uncommon degree of reverence, either by bowing or prostration. This, how- 
ever, is not supported by sufficient evidence. Others think the great veneration 
for it took its rise soon after their return from captivity, which is more probable. 
At all events, the reason assigned for it is, that they reckoned it God's incommuni- 
cable name. Here I cannot but observe, that the translators of the Greek version 
of the Old Testament, commonly called the LXX., which, if it be not altogether 
the same with that mentioned by Aristajus, which was compiled almost three hun- 
dred years before the Christian era, is, without doubt, of considerable antiquity, 
never translate the word ' Jehovah,' but, instead of it, write Kv^iot, ' Lord ;'s and, even 
when it seems absurd not to translate it, as when it is said, ' by my name, Jehovah, 
was I not known,' they render it, ' by my name, the Lord, was I not known. '^ 
This practice we have taken occasion to observe, not as supposing it a sufficient 
proof in itself of the argument we are maintaining, but as it corresponds with the 
sense of those scriptures before-mentioned, from which it appears that Jehovah is 
the proper or incommunicable name of God. 

It is objected by the Antitrinitarians, that the name ' Jehovah' is sometimes 
given to creatures, and consequently that it is not God's proper name, nor evinces 
our Saviour's deity, when given to him. To prove that it is sometimes given to 
creatures, they refer to several scriptures ; as Exod. xvii. 15, where the altar that 
Moses erected is called 'Jehovah Nissi,' that is, the Lord is my banner; to Judges 
vi. 24, where another altar that Gideon built is called, ' Jehovah Shalom ;' Gen. 
xxii. 14, where it is said that Abraham called the name of the place in which 
he was ready to offer Isaac, ' Jehovah Jireh ;' and Ezek. xlviii. 35, where it is 
said that Jerusalem, from that day, should be called, 'Jehovah Shammah.' They 
add, also, that the ark was called 'Jehovah,' on several occasions, and particularly 
when it was carried up into the city of David ; for it is said, ' The Lord,' that is, 
Jehovah, ' is gone up with a shout, even the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.'' 
They say, too, the name ' Jehovah ' is often, in the Old Testament, given to angels ; 
and is therefore not proper to God only. 

When they pretend that the name ' Jehovah ' was given to inanimate things, and 
in particular to altars, as the instance of one being called ' Jehovah Nissi,' it is 
very unreasonable to suppose that the name and glory of God were put upon them. 
Had the altar been a symbol of God's presence, it would not have been called by 
this name ; especially in the sense in which our Saviour and the Holy Spirit have 
it applied to them. The meaning of this scripture, as I apprehend, is nothing but 
this, — that there was an inscription M^ritten on the altar, containing these words, 
* Jehovah Nissi,' the design of which was to signify to the faith of those that came 
to worship there, that the Lord was their banner. The name, strictly speaking, 
was not given to the altar, but to God. Accordingly, some, not without good 
reason, render the words, ' He built an altar, and called the name of it the altar 
of Jehovah Nissi.' The same maybe said with respect to the altar .erected by 
Gideon, which was called ' Jehovah Shalom,' or ' the altar of Jehovah Shalom.' 
It was so called, that all who came to offer sacrifice upon it might be "put in mind 

g This the Holy Ghost has condescended, for what reason I know not, to give countenance to, 
in all those quotations in the New Testament, where the name Jehovah is referred to from the 
Old. [See Note 2 O, page 250. J 

h Exod. vi. 3. In two pi ices, indeed, it is rendered by Bus, God, Gen. iv. 1, and Isa. liv. 13. 
And there is one place in which some think they attempt a literal translation of it, 2 Sam. i. 12; 
where, instead of 'the people of the Lord,' they translate the text, tm tdh Xaon leula, in which, some 
think, lovia. is put for l»w«, or lou/Sa. through the mistake of some amanuensis. It seems, however, 
to be rather an explicatoii than a literal translation of the words. Some think the reason of 
this method used by them in their translation is, that the Hebrew letters of which that name con- 
sists cannot well be expressed by the letters of the Greek alphabet, so as to compose a word like 
it. But this does not seem to be the reason of it, lor they attemjit to translate other names equally 
difficult: as in Gen. x 2, Icavm for Javan ; and 2 Kings xii. 2, lai^ai for Jehoiada. 

i Psal. xlvii. 5. 


that God was a God of peace, or would give peace to them. As for the place to 
which Abraham went to offer Isaac, which is called ' Jehovah Jireh,' it was the 
mount Moriah ; and it is certain that this was not known bj the name * Jehovah 
Jireh,' or, whenever spoken of, mentioned bj that name. Nor had Abraham any 
right to apply to it any branch of the divine glory, as signified by the name. When, 
therefore, he called the place ' Jehovah Jireh,' it is as though he had said, ' Let 
all that travel over this mountain know that the Lord was seen, or that he provided 
a ram instead of Isaac, who was ready to be offered up ; let this place be remai'k- 
able, in future ages, for this amazing dispensation of providence ; and let them 
glorify God for what was done here, and take encouragement from it to their laith.' 
Or- we may consider him as having spoken as a prophet, and then the meaning is, 
' This place shall be verj remarkable in future ages, as it shall be the mount of 
vision ; here Jehovah will eminently appear in his temple, which shall be built in 
this place.' Or, if you take the words in another sense, namely, ' God will provide,' 
it is as if he had said, * As God has provided a ram to be offered instead of Isaac, 
so he will provide the Lamb of God, who is to take away the sin of the world, 
which was typified by Isaac's being offered.' The place, therefore, was not really 
called Jehovah ; but Abraham takes occasion, from what was done there, to mag- 
nify him who appeared to him and held his hand, — whom alone he calls Jehovah. 
We may add that, when Jerusalem is called Jehovah Shammah, ' the Lord is 
there,' the meaning is, that it shall eminently be said, in succeeding ages, of the 
new Jerusalem, that ' the Lord is there.' The city which was commonly known 
by the name Jerusalem, is not called Jehovah, as though it had any character of 
divine glory put upon it. The name, as given to it, simply implies, that the gospel 
church, which was signified by it, should have the presence of God in an eminent 
degree ; or, as our Saviour promised to his disciples, that ' he would be with them 
alway, even unto the end of the world, ''^ and, in consequence, that ' the gates of 
hell should not prevail against it.'' As for the ark, it was not called Jehovah. 
The psalmist simply takes occasion, from its being carried up into the city of 
David with a joyful solemnity and an universal shout, with the sound of a trumpet, 
to foretell the triumphant and magnificent ascension of our Saviour into heaven, 
which was typified by the event. Concerning him he says, ' Jehovah is gone up.' 
He is speaking in a prophetic style, — the present, or time past, being put for the 
time to come, and his words are as if he had said, * The Lord, when he has com- 
pleted the work of redemption on earth, will ascend into heaven, which shall be 
the cause of universal joy to the church ; and then he shall,' as the psalmist farther 
observes, ' reign over the heathen, and sit on the throne of his holiness.' Again, 
it does not appear that the ark was called Jehovah, in Exod. xvi. 33, 34. When 
Aaron is commanded to ' lay the pot full of manna before the testimony,' that is, 
the ark, he is said to have laid it 'before Jehovah.' But the reason of the expres- 
sion is this, — God had ordained that the mercy-seat over the ark should be the 
immediate seat of his residence, whence he would condescend to converse with 
men. Accordingly he is elsewhere said to ' dwell between the cherubims.' On 
this account, that which was laid up before the ark, might be said to be laid up 
before the Lord. But since none are so stupid as to suppose that inaniinate things 
can have the divine perfections belonging to them, the principal thing contended 
for is, that the ark was called Jehovah, because it was a sign and symbol of the 
divine presence. And thence they conclude, that the name of God may be applied 
to a person that has no right to the divine glory, as the sign is called by the name 
of the thing signified by it. It is to be observed, however, that the ark was not 
only a sacramental sign of God's presence, for that many other things relating to 
ceremonial worship were, but it was the seat of his presence. It was therefore 
the divine Majesty who was called Jehovah, and not the place of his residence ; 
and it was he alone to whom the glory was ascribed that is due to his name. 

When it is farther objected, that the name Jehovah is often applied to angels, the 
answer is, that it is never ascribed to any but him who is called, by way of eminence, 
•the Angel,' or 'the Messenger of the covenant,' that is, our Saviour.™ Whenever 

k Matt, xxviii. 20. I Chap. xvi. 18. m Mai. iii. 1. 


it is given to this angel, such glorious things are spoken of him, or such acts of 
divine worship demanded by and given to him, as argue him to be a divine Person. 
This will plainly appear, if we consider what the Angel, as he appeared to Moses, 
says concerning himself, ' I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the 
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'" It is said, 'Moses hid his face, for he was 
afraid to look upon God ;' and it is added, ' The Lord,' or Jehovah, ' said,, I have 
surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and I am come down to 
deliver them,' and ' I will send thee unto Pharaoh.' ° Then in the following verses, 
the Angel makes mention of his name, as the great 'Jehovah,' the ' I AM who 
sent him.' Jacob gives divine worship to this Angel, when he says, ' The Angel 
that redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.'P I might refer to many other 
scriptures, where the Angel of the Lord is said to have appeared, in which, from 
the context, it is evident that he was a divine Person, and not a created angel. 
The most ancient Jewish writers generally call him 'the Wordi of the Lord.* 
It is not denied, however, by the Anti-trinitarians, that the Person who so frequently 
appeared in the form of an Angel, made use of such expressions as can be applied 
to none but God ; and they say that he personated God, or spake after the manner 
of his representative, not designing that the glory of the divine perfections should 
be ascribed to him, but to Jehovah, whom he represented. We reply, that the 
Angel appearing to Moses, in the scripture before-mentioned, and to several 
others, doth not signify himself to personate God, as doubtless he ought to have 
done had he been only his representative, and not a divine person. An ambassa- 
dor, when he speaks in the name of the king whom he represents, always, when 
personating him, uses such modes of speaking as may be understood to apply, not 
to himself, but to him that sent him ; and it would be reckoned an affront to him 
whom he represents, should he give occasion to any to ascribe to himself the hon- 
our that belongs to his master. Now there is nothing in those texts which speak 
of this Angel's appearing, that intimates his disclaiming divine honour, as what 
belonged, not to him, but to God. Hence we must not suppose that he speaks iu 
such a way as God doth, only as representing him. We read, indeed, ■■ of a created 
Angel appearing to John, who was supposed by him, at the first, to be the same that 
appeared to the church of old, and accordingly John offered him divine honour ; 
but he refused to receive it, knowing that the character of being the divine repre- 
sentative would not be a sufficient warrant for his receiving it. We must conclude, 
therefore, that the Angel who appeared to the church of old, and is called Jehovah, 
was a divine Person. [See Note 2 P, page 250.] 

Having considered that the name Jehovah is peculiarly applied to God, we now 
proceed to prove that it is given to the Son. The first scripture that we shall re- 
fer to is Isa. xl. 3, ' The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness. Prepare ye 
the way of the Lord,' or Jehovah ; 'make straight in the desert a highway for our 
God.' If we can prove that this is a prophecy of John's preparing the way of our 
Saviour, it will appear that our Saviour, in this scripture, is called Jehovah. Now 
that it is a prediction of John's being Christ's forerunner, appointed to prepare 
the Jews for his reception, and to give them an intimation that he whom they had 
long looked for would suddenly appear, is plain from those scriptures in the New 
Testament, which expressly refer to the passage and explain it in this sense. Thus, 
' This is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying. The voice of one 
crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his path straight.'* 
Hence, he whose way John was to prepare, whom the prophet Isaiah calls Jehovah, 
is our Saviour. 

Again, it is said, ' Sanctify the Lord,' or Jehovah, ' of hosts himself, and let him 
be your fear, and let him be your dread. '^ Here the prophet not only speaks of a 
person, whom he calls ' Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts,' which alone would prove him 
to be a divine Person ; but he further considers him as the object of divine wor- 
ship,' — ' Sanctify him, and let him be your fear and your dread.' Certainly, if we 
can prove this to be spoken of Christ, it will be a strong and convincing argument 

n Exod. iii. 6. o Ver. 14, 15. p Gen. xlviii. 16. q See Dr. Allix's Judgment of the 

Jewish Church against the Unitarians, Chap. xiii. to xvi. r Rev. xxii. S, 9. s Matt. iii. 3. 

t Isa. viii. 13. 


to evince his proper deitj. Now that it is spoken of him, is very evident, if we 
compare it with what immediately follows, ' And he shall be for a sanctuary. ' 
This I would choose to render, ' For he shall be for a sanctuary;' the Hebrew 
particle Vau, which we render ' and,' being often rendered elsewhere ' for.' The per- 
son's being a sanctuary is thus assigned as a reason why we should sanctify him ; 
and then it follows, that because the Jews will not give that glory to him which 
they are under obligation to render, he will be ' to them for a stone of stumbling, 
and for a rock of ottence,' as he shall ' be for a sanctuary ' to those that are faith- 
ful. That this is spoken of Christ, appears from the subject of which it treats ; 
for it is only he who, properly speaking, is said to be a rock of offence, or in 
whom the world was offended, by reason of his appearing in it in a low condition. 
That it is spoken of Christ appears also by comparing it with other scriptures, and 
particularly with Isa. xxviii. 16, ' Behold I lay in Sion, for a foundation, a stone, 
a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation ; he that believeth shall 
not make haste.' Here he is styled, a foundation-stone, the rock on which his church 
is built ; and in the passage under consideration, he is called ' a stone of stumbling 
and a rock of offence.' Now both scriptures are referred to, and applied to him in 
1 Pet. ii. 6, 8, ' Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in 
Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious ; and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of 
offence to them that are disobedient.' Here the apostle proves plainly, that our 
Saviour is the Person who is spoken of, in both these texts, by the prophet Isaiah, 
and consequently that he is Jehovah, whom we are to sanctify and to make our 
fear and our dread. 

Again, the name Jehovah is applied to Christ in Numb. xxi. 5 — 7, ' And the 
people spake against God, and against Moses ; and the Lord sent fiery serpents 
among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died ; there- 
fore the people came to Moses, and said. We have sinned, for we have spoken 
against the Lord,' or Jehovah, ' and against thee.' He, who is called 'God,' 
whom they spake against, is called ' Jehovah,' who sent fiery serpents among them, 
which destroyed them for their speaking against him. Now this is expressly ap- 
plied to our Saviour by the apostle, ' Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them 
also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.'*^ 

Again, the prophet Isaiah, having had a vision of the angels adoring and minis- 
tering to that glorious Person who is represented as sitting on a throne,^ reflects on 
what he had seen, and expresses himself in these words, ' Mine eyes have seen the 
King, the Lord,' or Jehovah, ' of Hosts.' Now this is expressly applied to our 
Saviour, in John xii. 41, ' These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and 
spake of him.' That John refers here to this vision, is evident from the preceding 
verse, which contains a quotation from a part of it, in which God foretells that he 
would blind the eyes, and harden the hearts, of the unbelieving Jews. It follows 
that the Person who appeared to Isaiah, sitting on a throne, whom he calls ' Jeho- 
vah,' was our Saviour. 

Again, our point may be further argued, from Isa. xlv. 21, ' There is no God 
else besides me, a just God and a Saviour, there is none besides me. Look unto 
me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ; for I am God, and there is none 
else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, 
and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall 
swear. Surely, shall one say. In the Lord have I righteousness and strength ; 
even to him shall men come, and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 
In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.' This text 
is a glorious proof of our Saviour's deity, not only from his being caUed Jehovah, but 
from several other divine characters being ascribed to him. The Person whom the 
prophet speaks of, styles himself Jehovah, and adds, that there is no God besides 
him ; and he is represented as swearing by himself, which none ought to do but a divine 
Person ; and he encourages all the ends of the earth to look to him for salvation. 
If, therefore, it can be made to appear that this is spoken of our Saviour, it will be 
an undeniable proof of his proper deity ; since nothing more than this can be said 

u 1 Cor. X. 9. X Isa. vi. 1, 2. 


to express the glorj of the Father. Nov/ that the words are spoken of our Saviour, 
must be allowed bj every one who reads them impartially ; for there are several 
things — such as that all the ends of the earth are invited to look to him for salvation 
—which agree with his character as Mediator. We have a parallel scripture, which 
is plainly applied to him, ' And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, 'y that is, 
the Messiah, who should spring from the root or stock of Jesse, ' which shall stand 
for an ensign of the people ; to it,' or to him, ' shall the Gentiles seek.' This is 
the same thing as for the ends of the earth to look to him. Besides, the phrase, 
' looking to him,' is a metaphor, taken from a very remarkable type of men's look- 
ing to him as the Saviour, — namely, Israel's looking to the brazen serpent for 
healing. Thus he who is here spoken of, is represented as a Saviour, and as the 
object of faith. Again, he is represented as swearing by himself, ' That unto him 
every knee should bow, and every tongue should swear.' This is expressly applied 
to our Saviour, in the New Testament, as containing a prophecy of his being the 
Judge of the world, ' We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ ; for 
it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every 
tongue shall confess to God ; so then every one of us shall give account of himself 
to God.''' The same words are used, with a little variation, in Phil. ii. 10, 11, ' That 
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in 
earth, a,nd things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus 
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' Again, the person of whom the 
prophet speaks, is one against whom the world was incensed ; which can be meant 
of none but Christ, as signifying the opposition that he should meet with, and the 
rage and fury that should be directed against him, when appearing in our nature. 
Again, he is .said to be one in whom 'we have righteousness,' and in whom ' the 
seed of Israel shall be justified ;' which very evidently agrees with the account we 
have of him in the New Testament, as a Person by whose righteousness we are 
justified, or whose righteousness is imputed to us for that end. 

This leads us to consider another scripture, in which Christ is called Jehovah ; 
' This is his name, whereby he shall be called, the Lord,' or Jehovah, 'our righ- 
teousness.'* His being called 'our righteousness,' as was before observed, implies, 
that the Messiah, our great Mediator, is the Person spoken of, who is called Jeho- 
vah. This is farther evinced from the context ; for it is said, ' Behold the days 
come,' namely, the gospel day, ' that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, 
and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the 
earth.''' This any one who judges impartially of the sense of scripture, will con- 
clude to be spoken concerning our Saviour's erecting the gospel-dispensation, and 
being the sole Lord and Governor of his church. How the exercise of his domi- 
nion over it proves his deity, will be considered under a following head. All we 
need to observe at present is, that this description is very agreeable to his charac- 
ter in scripture, as Mediator. We conclude, therefore, that, in this passage, he is 
called Jehovah. It is objected, however, that the words may be otherwise trans- 
lated, namely, ' This is the name, whereby the Lord our righteousness,' that is, 
the Father, ' shall call him.' But the Father is never called in scripture, ' our 
righteousness,' as was but now observed ; this being a character peculiar to 
the Mediator, as is fully explained in several places in the New Testament. Be- 
sides, it is well-known that the Hebrew word<= either actively or passively, 
as it is differently pointed, the letters being the same. We shall not enter into a 
critical disquisition concerning the origin or authenticity of the Hebrew points, in 
order to prove that our translation, rather than that mentioned in the objection, is 
just ; but shall prove this from the context. It appears thence, that if the 
passage were translated according to the sense of the objectors, it would be little 
less tlian a tautology ; for it would then read : ' I will raise to David a righteous 
branch ; and this is the name whereby Jehovah, our righteousness, shall call him, 
namely, the Branch.' Hence, the sense of our translation of the text, seems, 
at least, more natural. It is also more agreeable to the grammatical construction 
observed in the Hebrew language ; in which the words of a sentence are not trans- 

y Isa. xi. 10. z Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 12. a Jer. xxiii. 6. b Ver. 5. c itnp*. 


posed as they are in the Greek and Latin, which they are supposed to be, in the 
sense of the text contained in the objection. But it is farther objected, that though 
our translation were just, and Christ were called Jehovah, yet the passage will not 
prove his deity, since it is elsewhere said concerning the church, ' This is the name 
wherewith she shall be called. The Lord,' or Jehovah, ' our righteousness. '«i It is 
evident, however, from the context, that this is a parallel scripture to the one in 
question. The same Pex-son, ' the Branch,' is spoken of; and the same things are 
predicted concerning the gospel-church, that was to be governed by him. While 
it is plain that our translators understood this text as spoken of the church of the 
Jews, or rather of the gospel-church, as many others do ; yet, if we consider the 
sense of the Hebrew words here used,^ it is very evident that they might, with 
equal, if not with greater propriety, have been rendered, ' shall be called by her.' 
The sense, therefore, is the same as that of the other passage ; the Branch, namely, 
our Saviour, is to be called, ' the Lord our righteousness,' and adored as such by 
the church. 

There is another scripture, in which our Saviour is called Jehovah ; ' And ye 
sliall know that I am the Lord,' or Jehovah, 'your God, and none else ;'^ compared 
with the words in the context: 'And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall 
call on the name of the Lord,' or Jehovah, ' shall be delivered. 's In both these 
verses, it is evident that our Saviour is called ' Jehovah. ' The Person who is so called 
in the former of them, is said to 'pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, '^ &c. These 
words are expressly applied to Christ in Acts ii. IG, 17. The pouring out of his 
Spirit on all flesh, which they predict, is particularly ascribed to him : ' ' There- 
fore being, by the right hand of God, exalted, and having received of the Father 
the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.' 
The argument, then, is this : He who was, according to this prophecy, to ' pour out 
his Spirit on all flesh,' is called ' Jehovah, your God ;' but our Saviour is said to 
have poured out the Spirit, — therefore the name Jehovah is justly applied to him. 
As to the latter of the verses, ' Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall 
be delivered,' this also is applied to Christ, by Paul in the epistle to the Romans, 
and explained as spoken of him.'' That the apostle there speaks of calling on the 
name of Christ, is plain from the preceding and following context. What he 
terms ' calling on the name of the Lord,' he previously terms, ^ ' confessing the 
Lord Jesus ;' and he there connects this with salvation. He then proceeds to con- 
sider, that, in order to our ' confessing him,' or 'calling on his name,' it is neces- 
sary that Christ should ' be preached.''" He farther adds, that though Christ was 
preached, and his glory proclaimed in the gospel, yet the Jews believed not in him> 
and consequently called not on his name. This he treats as an accomplishment of 
what had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah, *• ' Who hath believed our report?' 
&c.; intimating that it was predicted, that our Saviour should be rejected, and not 
be believed in, by the Jews. It is hence very evident that the apostle is speaking 
concerning him, and applying to him what is mentioned in the passage in Joel, in 
which he is called Jehovah. This glorious name, therefore, belongs to him. 

Several other scriptures might have been quoted, to prove that Christ is called 
Jehovah — scriptures which are applied to him in the New Testament, and some of 
which may be incidentally mentioned under some following arguments. I think, 
however, that what has been already said is abundantly sufiicient to prove his deity, 
from his having this glorious name given to him. I shall proceed, therefore, to 
consider some other names given to him for the proof of this. 

He is styled ' Lord ' and ' God,' in a sense which plainly proves his proper deity. 
We will not, indeed, deny that the names ' Lord ' and ' God ' are sometimes given 
to creatures ; yet we are not left without sufiicient light, whereby we may plainly 
discern when they are applied to the one living and true God, and when not. To 
assert the contrary, would be to reflect on the wisdom and goodness of God. Not only 
would it render those scriptures in which they occur like the trumpet. that gives 
an uncertain sound ; but we should be in the greatest danger, in a matter of the 

d Jer. xxxiii. 16. e rrb Hip'. fJoelii. 27. g Ver. 32. h Ver. 28 

i Verse 32. k Rom. x. 13. 1 Verse 9. m Ver. 14, 15. n Isa. liii. I 

I. Z 


highest importance, of being led aside into a most destructive mistake, and induced 
to give that glory to the creature which is due to God only. We shall always find 
something either in the text or in the context, which evidently determines the 
sense of these names, when they are applied to God, and when to the creature. 

Let it be observed, that whenever the word ' God ' or ' Lord ' is given to a crea- 
ture, there is some diminutive character annexed to it, which plainly distinguishes 
it from the true God. Thus when it is given to idols, it is intimated, that they are 
called or falsely esteemed gods or lords by their deceived worshippers. Accord- 
ingly they are styled 'strange gods,'° 'molten gods,'? and ' new gods ;'^ and their 
worshippers are reproved as ' brutish and foolish. '"■ Again, when the word 'God' 
is applied to men, there is something in the context which implies, that, whatever 
characters of honour are given to them, they are, notwithstanding, subject to the 
divine control. Thus it is said, ' God standeth in the congregation of the mighty ; 
he judgeth among the gods.'^ They are described also as at best but mortal men: 
• I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High ; but ye 
shall die like men.' They are depicted, it is true, as partakers of the divine image, 
consisting in some lesser branches of sovereignty and dominion ; but this is infi- 
nitely below the idea of sovereignty and dominion which is expressed by the word, 
when applied to the great God. God says to Moses, indeed, ' See, I have made 
thee a god to Pharaoh.'* But by this we are not to understand that any of the 
divine perfections were communicated to or predicated of him ; for God cannot give 
his glory to another. The sense is plainly, that he was set in God's stead. Thus 
he is said to be instead of God to Aaron ;" and the same expression is used by Elihu 
to Job,'' ' I am according to thy wish in God's stead.' Hence, Moses being made 
a god to Pharaoh, implies, not that he should have a right to receive divine honour, 
but merely that he should, by being God's minister in inflicting the plagues which 
he designed to bring on Pharaoh and liis servants, be rendered formidable to them. 
Again, when the word ' God ' is put absolutely, without any additional character of 
glory or diminution annexed to it, it must always be understood of the great God ; 
this being that name by which he is generally known in scripture, and which is 
never otherwise applied, without an intimation given that he is not intended by it. 
Thus the Father and the Son are described in John i. 1, ' The Word was with 
God, and the Word was God,' and in many other places of scripture. Hence, if 
we can prove that our Saviour is called God in scripture, without any thing in 
the context tending to detract from the most known sense of the word, we shall 
furnish sufficient evidence of his proper deity. W^e shall find, however, that he is 
not only called God, but that there are some additional glories annexed to that 
name, by which his deity will more abundantly appear. 

As to the word ' Lord,' though it is often applied to creatures, and is given to 
superiors by their subjects or servants, yet it also is sufficiently distinguished when 
applied to a divine person, and when applied to creatures. Now, if we can prove 
that our Saviour is called ' Lord ' and ' God ' in the supreme sense, the names will 
sufficiently evince his proper deity. In order to this, we shall consider several 
scriptures in which he is so called ; and in which also several characters of glory, 
and divine honours are ascribed to him, which are due to none but a divine Per- 
son, and which abundantly determine the sense of the words as applied to him. 

He is called ' Lord' in Psal. ex. 1, ' The Lord said unto ray Lord, Sit thou at 
my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' That our Saviour, the 
Messiah, is the Person whom David calls his Lord, is very evident from the words 
being quoted and applied to him in the New Testament.y It is evident also from 
a passage in our Saviour's history, that, by calling him Lord, David ascribes divine 
honour to him. W^hen the question was put to the Pharisees, If Christ were 
David's Lord, how could he be his Son ? they might easily have replied to it, 
had it been taken in a lower sense ; for it is not difficult to suppose that David 
might have a son descending from him, who might be advanced to the highest 
honours short of what are divine. . But the Pharisees, not understanding how two 

o Deut. xxxiL 16, p Exod. xxxiv. 17. q Judges v. 8. r Jer. x. 8. s Psal. Ixxxii. 1, 6, 
t Exod. vii. 1. u Chap. iv. 16. x Job xxxiii. 6. y Matt. xxii. 44, &c. 


infinitely distant natures could be united in one person, so that he should be callea 
David's Son, and yet his Lord, in such a sense as proves his deity, they were con- 
founded, and put to silence. But whether they acknowledged him to be a divine 
Person or not, it is evident that David considers him to be such, — that he considered 
him to be the Person who, pursuant to God's covenant made with him, was to sit 
and rule upon his throne, in whom alone it could be said that it should be perpetual, 
so that of his kingdom there should be no end. And inasmuch as speaking of the 
Person whom he calls his Lord, who was to be his Son, he says, ' Tliy people shall 
be willing in the day of thy power, '^ he plainly infers, that he should exert divine 
power, and consequently evince himself to be a divine Person. 

If the word ' Lord' be applied to Christ, as denoting his sovereignty over the 
church, and his being the Governor of the world, it will be considered under the 
next head, when we speak concerning those glorious titles and attributes ascribed 
to him which prove his deity. We shall therefore wave it at present as applied in 
this sense ; and shall only name two or three scriptures, in which he is called ' Lord' 
in a more glorious sense than when it is applied to any creature. Thus in Rev. 
xvii. 14, speaking of the Lamb, which is a character that can be applied to none 
but him as Mediator, he is called, ' Lord of lords.' In Rev. i. 5, he is called, ' the 
Prince of the kings of the earth ;' and in 1 Cor. ii. 8, ' the Lord of glory.' These 
texts will be more particularly considered, when we speak concerning his glorious 
titles, as an argument to prove his deity. All that we shall observe at present is, 
that this is the same character by which God is acknowledged by anti-trinitarians 
to be described in Dent. x. 17, ' The Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of 
lords ; a great God, and terrible.' As truly, therefore, as the deity of the Father 
is proved from this scripture, so truly have we ground to infer the deity of Christ, 
when he is called Lord, with additional marks of glory. 

Christ is often in scripture called ' God,' in a sense in which the name is never 
applied to a creature. In Psal. xlv. 6. it is said, ' Thy throne, O God, is for ever 
and ever.' Many glorious things are spoken of him in that psalm, which farther 
prove that he whom it calls ' God' is a divine Person, in the same sense as God the 
Father is. He is said, in particular, to be ' fairer than the children of men,''* that 
is, infinitely above them. Addressing the church it is also said, ' He is thy Lord, 
and worship thou him.'^ The psalm likewise describes the church's complete bless- 
edness as consisting in her being brought into his palace who is tl|p King of it ; 
and so it denotes him to be the spring and fountain of complete blessedness. It 
adds that ' his name,' or glory, ' is to be remembered in all generations, and that 
the people shall praise him for ever and ever.' This glory is ascribed to him who 
is called ' God ;' and many other things are said concerning him, relating to his 
works, his victories, his triumphs, which are very agreeable to the divine charac- 
ter. It hence evidently appears that the Person spoken of in this psalm, is truly 
and properly God. The anti-trinitarians, I am aware, will object, that several 
things are said concerning him in this psalm, which argue his inferiority to the 
Father. These only prove, however, that the Person spoken of is considered as 
God-man, Mediator ; in which respect he is, in one nature, equal, and, in the other, 
inferior to him. Were the psalm understood otherwise, one set of expressions con 
tained in it would be inconsistent with and contradictory to another. We shall 
only add, as an undeniable proof tliat it is Christ who is here spoken of, and that 
he is considered as Mediator, that the apostle, speaking of him as Mediator, and 
describing his divine glory as such, quotes these words of the psalm, ' Unto the 
Son he saith. Thy throne, God, is for ever and ever ; a sceptre of righteousness 
is the sceptre of thy kingdom, ' '^ 

Another instance of the name ' God' being applied to our Saviour in the sense 
of deity, occurs in Matt. i. 23, ' Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring 
forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, 
God with us.' His incarnation, as is plain from the words, is what gives occasion 
to his being described by the name or character, 'God with us.' This title imports 
the same thing as the phrase which occurs in John i. 14, ' The Word was made flesh, 

z Psal. ex. 3. a Ver. 2. b Ver. 11. c Heb. i. 8. 


and dwelt among us.' This cannot be applied to any but Christ. To say that 
the Father is called Emmanuel, is such a strain upon the sense of the text as no 
impartial reader will allow of. It is obviously a name given to the Son upon the 
great occasion of his incarnation ; and it intimates as glorious a display of his 
deity, as the text in Exodus does of the deity of the Father, if we suppose it to 
apply to him, ' I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.'*' 

Again, Christ's deity is proved from his being styled ' God, manifest in the flesh. '^ 
These words imply that the second Person in the Godhead was united to our na- 
ture ; for neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost were ever said to be manifested 
in the flesh. Besides, he is, in the context, distinguished from the Spirit, as justi- 
fied by him. Nor is he called ' God,' on account of his incarnation, as some Soci- 
nian writers suppose ; for to become incarnate supposes the pre-existence of that 
nature to which the human nature was united. Accordingly, the incarnation is 
elsewhere called assuming, or taking flesh ; as it is here called, being manifested 
in it. Christ, therefore, was God before the act of incarnation. And there is cer- 
tainly nothing in the text which determines the word ' God ' to be taken in a less 
proper sense, than when it is applied to the Father. It is objected, however, that 
the word ' God ' is not found in aU the manuscripts of the Greek text, nor in some 
translations, particularly the Syriac, Arabic, and vulgar Latin, which render the 
passage, ' the mystery which was manifest in the flesh,' &c. But it is not pre- 
tended that the word is left out in more than two Greek copies ; and it is very un- 
reasonable to oppose these to aU the rest. As to the Syriac and Arabic translations, 
some suppose that it is not true in fact that the word ' God ' is left out in the 
Arabic ; and though the Syriac leaves it out, it retains it in the sense, which is, 
' great is the mystery of godliness that he was manifested in the flesh.' As to the 
vulgar Latin version, it has not credit enough, especially among protestants, to 
stand in competition with so many copies of scripture in which the word is found. 
We can by no means, therefore, give up the argument which is taken from this 
text to prove our Saviour's deity. Besides, we might appeal to the very words of 
the text itself, from which it plainly appears, that if the word ' God ' be left out, 
the following part of the verse will not be so consistent with 'a mystery ' as it is with 
' our Saviour.' It is a very great impropriety of expression to say that ' a mystery,' 
or as some Socinian writers explain it, 'the will of God,'^ was manifest in the flesh, 
and received ia a glorious manner. Such an idea is not agreeable to the sense of 
the Greek words ; for it is plain that the phrase t» «■«?»/ t(pan^uBt,, which we justly 
render 'was manifest in the flesh,' is never used in scripture to signify, as the 
Socinians understand it, the preaching of the gospel by weak mortal men. On the 
other hand, it is often used to denote the manifestation of our Saviour in his incar- 
nation ; and it is explained in John i. 14, where it is said that he was 'made flesh, 
and we beheld his glory. '? As for the gospel, though it met with reception when 
preached to the Gentiles, and there were many circumstances of glory which at- 
tended the dispensation of it, yet it could not be said for that reason to be received 
up mto glory. Now, since what is said in this verse agrees to our Saviour, and not 
to the mystery of godliness, we are bound to conclude that he is God manifest in 
the flesh, and that the objection of the Anti-trinitarians is of no force. 

The next scripture which we shall consider is Acts xx. 28, ' Feed the church of 
God which he hath purchased with his own blood.' lie who is here spoken of is 
said to have an ownership in the church. This no mere creature can be said to 
have. _ Our Saviour is not only here but elsewhere described as having it. Thus 
it is said, ' He was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who 
hath builded the house hath more honour than the house ; and he that built all 

d Exod, xxix. 45. e 1 Tim. iii. 16. f Vid. Catech. Racov. ad Quaest. LIX. 

g It is. elsewhere said conceriiitig him, 1 John iii. 5, that he was manifested, &c., t<pttn^aiti, as 
also in ver. 8. As for what is said in the last clause of the verse, that ' he was received up into 
glory,' it is a very great strain on the sense of those words to apply it to a mystery, or to the gospel, 
since the words, avtk>i(p^n t» S«^>). plainly intimate a person's meeting with a glorious reception when 
ascending into heaven. Ava}.a/iCaycf/,ai signifies sursum recipcre, therefore we render it, received 
up. So it is often applied to our Saviour, Acts i. 2, II, '12 ; and his ascension is called, Luke ix. 51. 
n^tf<e Txf ataXn^iuf, the time in which he should be received up. 


things is God.'^ This is as though the apostle had said, ' Our Lord Jesus Christ 
hath built not only his church but all things, and therefore must be God.' Again, 
he is called ' a Son over his own house ;'' so that he is the purchaser, the builder, 
and the proprietor of his church, and therefore must be a divine person. Then, 
in the passage under consideration, it is observed, that he who hath purchased this 
church is God, and that God hath done this with his own blood. Now this cannot 
be applied to any but the Mediator, the Son of God, whose deity it plainly proves. 
— Some object against this sense of the text, that the word ' God ' is here referred 
to the Father; and so the sense is, ' Feed the church of God,' that is, of the 
Father, 'which He,' that is, Christ, 'hath purchased with his own blood.' This 
seems, however, a very great strain and force upon the grammatical sense of the 
words ; for certainly ' He ' must refer to the immediate antecedent, and that is 
' God,' to wit, the Son. If such a method of expounding scripture were to be allow- 
ed, it would be an easy matter to make the word of God speak anything we please. 
We must therefore take the passage in the most plain and obvious sense ; and then 
it appears that God the Son has purchased the church with his own blood, and 
that he has a right to the church. — But it is objected, again, that God the Father 
is said to have purchased the church by the blood of Christ ; which is called 
his blood, as he is the Proprietor of all things. But though God is the Proprietor 
of all things, no one who does not labour very hard to maintain the cause he is 
defending, would understand ' his blood ' in this sense. According to this method 
of speaking, God the Father might be said to have done every thing that the Me- 
diator did, and so to have shed his blood upon the cross, as well as to have pur- 
cnased the church by it. 

The next scripture we shall notice as proving our Saviour's deity by applying to 
him the name 'God,' is Rom. ix. 5, 'Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, 
who is over all, God blessed for ever. ' Here he is not only called ' God, ' but ' God 
blessed for ever.' This is a character too high for any creature ; and is the very 
same that elsewhere is given to the Father, who is styled, ' The God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore,'"^ that is, not only the ob- 
ject of worship, but the fountain of blessedness. Now, if Christ be so called, as it 
seems evident that he is, then the word ' God ' is, in this text, applied to him in 
the highest sense, so as to argue him a divine Person. That the text does apply 
it to our Saviour, is plain ; because he is the subject of the proposition which it 
contains, and is considered as being ' of the fathers concerning the flesh,' that is, 
with respect to his human nature. It is objected, however, that the words may 
be rendered thus : ' Let God,' namely, the Father, ' who is over all, be blessed for 
ever,' that is, for the great privilege that Christ should come in the flesh. In de- 
fence of our translation, it may be remarked, that it is very agreeable to the 
grammatical construction of the words. Erasmus, it is true, defends the other 
sense of the text, and so gives countenance to many after him, to make use of it 
against our argument ; and that sense, he says, may be plainly proved from many 
other scriptures. It is very strange that, with one hand, he should build up, and, 
with the other, overthrow Christ's proper deity. Shall we attribute this to that affec- 
tation which he had to appear singular, and, in many things, to run counter to the 
common sense of mankind ; or to the favourable thoughts which he appears to have 
had, in some instances, of the Arian scheme ? Most of the ancient versions render 
this text in the sense of our translation. Most of the ancient Fathers also do so, 
as a late writer observes,' in their defence of the doctrine of the Trinity. It is 
certain, too, that the sense given by the Anti-trinitarians, is so apparently forced 
and strained, that some of the Socinians themselves, whose interest it was to have 
adopted it, have not thought flt to insist on it. A learned writer,™ who has appear- 
ed in the Anti-trinitarian cause, and who certainly would have defended his sense of 
the text better than he does had it been defensible, seems to argue below himself, 
when he attempts to give a turn to it agreeable to his own scheme : " It is uncer- 
tain," he alleges, " whether the word 'God' was originally in the text; and if it 

h Hebrews iii. 3, 4. i Ver. 6. k 2 Cor. xi. 31. 1 See Whitby in loc. 

m See Dr. Claik's Reply to Nelson, oage 36. 


"was, whether it be not spoken of the Father." To say no more than this, is not 
to defend the Anti-trinitarian sense of the text; for if there were any doubt whether 
the word ' God ' was left out of any ancient manuscripts, he would have obliged 
the world had he referred to them. This neither he, nor, I think, any one else 
has done. As to his supposing it uncertain whether the name be not there applied 
to the Father, he ought to have proved and not suggested this. We might observe, 
in defence of our translation, that whenever the words are so used in the New 
Testament that they may be translated, ' Blessed be God,'" they ai'e disposed in a 
different form, or order, from that in which they occur here. But though this is a 
probable argument, we sliall not insist on it, but shall rather prove our translation 
to be just, from the connection of the words with what goes immediately before. 
There the apostle had been speaking of our Saviour, as descending from the fathers, 
according to the flesh ; or he had been considering him as to his human nature. 
It is hence very reasonable to suppose that he would speak of him as to his divine 
nature. Both natures are spoken of together, in John i. 14. and elsewhere ; and 
why they should not be so spoken of here, cannot well be accounted for. [See 
Note 2 Q, page 251.] Hence if our translation be only supposed to be equally 
just with that of the Anti-trinitarians — and I think none pretend to deny that it is — 
the connection of the parts of the proposition laid down in the passage determines 
the sense in our favour. 

Here I cannot pass over that proof which we have of our Saviour's divinity, in 
1 John V. 20, ' This is the true God, and eternal life.' In this passage ' the true 
God' is opposed to those idols which, in the following verse, the apostle advises be- 
lievers to 'keep themselves from.' In this sense the Anti-trinitarians themselves 
sometimes call Christ the true God ; that is to say, he is not an idol. On this ac- 
count, a learned writer" observes, that they deal with him as Judas did, when he 
cried, ' Hail Master,' and then betrayed him. They would be thought to ascribe 
every thing to him but proper deity. That this belongs to him, however, will evi- 
dently appear, if we can prove that these words are spoken of him. The learned 
author of the scripture-doctrine of the Trinity, p indeed, takes a great deal of pains 
to prove that it is the Father who is here spoken of ; and his exposition of the 
former part of the text, which does not immediately support his cause, seems very 
just : ' The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may 
know him that is true,' namely, the Father, ' and we are in him that is true,' 
speaking still of the Father, 'by or through his Son Jesus Christ.' But, I hum- 
bly conceive, he does not acquit himself so well in the sense he gives of the follow- 
ing words, on which the whole stress of the argument depends. He takes for grant- 
ed, that the word o!iT»t, ' this,' refers back, not, as is most natural and usual, to the 
last word in order, but to the last and principal in sense, namely, ' the Father.' 
This is, at least, doubtful. Any unprejudiced reader, who hath not a cause to 
maintain which obliges him to understand it so, would refer it to the immediate 
antecedent, namely, 'the Son,' by whom we have an interest in the Father. When 
the apostle had been speaking of him as Mediator, and, as such, as the Author of 
the great privilege of our knowing the Father and being in him, it seems very 
agreeable to describe him as a Person every way qualified for this work, and con- 
sequently as being the true God. Besides, the apostle had, in the beginning of 
the verse, spoken of the Father as 'him that is true,' or, as some manuscripts have 
it, ' him that is the true God,' as the same author observes. What reason, theTi, 
can we assign why this should be repeated, — why the apostle should be supposed 
to say, 'We know the Father, who is the true God, and he is the true God?' This